The Nile monitor (Varanus Niloticus) is found in sub-Saharan Africa. They adapt to a wide variety of habitats from tropical rain forests to savannas, except in desert areas. They live always next to water sources, such as rivers, lakes, wetlands or coastal areas.
Together with many other species like the african rock python they are considered an invasive species in Florida with a thriving population, which proves their adaptability.
They can reach over 2,5 meters long (8 ft), so they are the largest lizards in Africa (the tail usually measures a little over half the length of the body). These reptiles have a strong body, powerful legs with strong claws and long prehensile tail.
The skin is brown or olive green, with yellow spots distributed in a more or less regular pattern. Like snakes, the nile monitors has a snake like forked tongue, which serves, together with the Jacobson's organ, to obtain information about their surroundings.
These diurnal reptiles, are generally seen in on rocks or branches in the sun to keep warm, during the night they seek shelter in burrows. They often plunder the nests of turtles and crocodiles to feed on the eggs.
Nile monitor - Diet
They feed on eggs of turtles and crocodiles, as well as crabs, snails, frogs, fish, reptiles, birds and carrion.
Nile monitor - Reproduction
It is an oviparous species. In populations near the equator mating can occur at any time of year, but in areas south of the area of distribution, these usually occur between June and July. The posture is carried out approximately 30 days after mating.
The female lays 20-60 eggs on the banks of a river or inside an termite mounds (which has, in this case, an essential role in maintaining the humidity and temperature). The incubation period lasts about four to six months.
Juveniles emerge normally from the nest after the summer rains. They reach sexual maturity at about three years old.
Nile monitor - Conservation status and major threats
This species is not threatened globally (according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature). It belongs to the CITES Appendix II.
Some populations are endangered due to hunting for the skin trade and organs for traditional medicine. Moreover, the construction of dams has increased the available habitat area, contributing to the increase of Nile monitor numbers in some places.
Species: V. niloticus