The Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus) is a medium-sized African lizard. It is found in most of Africa, except West Africa. It is a reptile – the second largest reptile in the Nile River (second to the Nile Crocodile).
The Nile Monitor has mainly grey-brown muscular body with rough scales, green-yellow bars on its tail and green-yellow irregular spots on its back. It has a yellowish throat and underbelly. It has short, strong legs, with sharp claws. It uses its claws for digging, climbing, and for defense. Its long tail is powerful, which it can whip in defense.
It has powerful jaws with sharp, pointed teeth that become blunt with age, and a snake-like, forked tongue. It has large nostrils on its snout, and it has an excellent sense of smell. It is a good climber and swimmer.
The Nile Monitor can grow to about 120-220 centimetres (47-87 inches) long.
The Nile Monitor feeds on fish, snails, frogs, crocodile eggs, snakes, birds, and small mammals.
It prefers being close to rivers, so it is not found in deserts.
The female digs a burrow in a termite mound to lay 20-60 eggs. The young lizards hatch a year later.
[Location of photographs: Nairobi, Kenya and Tbilisi Zoo, Georgia]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM