> Subphylum Vertebrata > Class Reptilia
seen? This large lizard is commonly seen on many of our
shores, including our offshore islands. According to Baker, they are
found in forests, mangroves, scrubland and beaches where they tend
to stay close to water. As well as in large canals in built up areas.
mainly terrestrial, it can climb trees and also swims well (keeping
its limbs to the side of the body, and propelling itself with sinuous
undulations of the flattened tail). It can even dive underwater.
Features: 2.5-3m long.
Among the largest lizards in the world, certainly the largest reptile
in our marine habitats. A robust, muscular body with a long tail that
is flattened towards the slender tip. It has a slender forked tongue.
The nostrils are located close to the tip of the long and slender
snout. It has small non-overlapping scales on a thick leathery skin.
Hatchlings are black with whitish undersides with rows of bright yellow
spots forming bands along the back and tail. This pattern fades in
adults which is often plain grey. Non-venomous and shy of humans,
it will prefer to flee than to fight. But if cornered, it may bite.
So do leave the monitors alone.
Sometimes mistaken for an Estuarine crocodile. The lizard's snout is short and narrow, and tail is long and slender. A crocodile has a long snout and a much thicker fatter tail.
The lizard often swims by placing its limbs against its body and undulating its long tail from side to side. The crocodile may swim in the same way as the lizard. It may also often sink into the murky water and emerge some distance away. Sometimes, all that sticks out above water are the crocodile's eyes and the tip of its long snout.
On land, a large monitor lizard can look scary and be mistaken for a crocodile! Once again, observe that the lizard has a short snout and slender tail. And the lizard has a long blue forked tongue which it regularly flicks out now and then. The crocodile doesn't have such a tongue. A crocodile on the other hand, has a long snout and jaws full of teeth! And a thick fat tail. Its scales are also much bigger.
What does it eat? According to
Baker, it eats small animals and fishes and also scavenges on dead
animals. According to Cox, it prefers crabs and frogs and also eats
eggs, nestling birds and other reptiles and large invertebrates. Young
monitor lizards feed on insects. It hunts during the day.
Monitor babies: Mama lizard lays
15-30 eggs with a soft leathery shell. When you see a pair of water
monitors hugging one another, they are not mating! They are actually
a pair of males wrestling one another. The one that pushes the other
onto the ground wins.
the tip of a slender snout.
non-overlapping scales. Bands of
yellow spots on juveniles that fade in adults.
Buloh Wetland Reserve, Sep 09
swim, it holds its limbs against its body and propels itself with
Admiralty Park, May 12
Long blue forked
Pasir Ris Park, Feb 12
Pasir Ris Park, Mar 13
The aim is to topple
your rival onto the ground.
Pasir Ris Park, Feb 12
Digging deep in a muddy hole.
The lizard can hold its breath for a long time!
water monitors on Singapore shores
- Marcus Ng and Robert W. Mendyk. 2012. Predation of an Adult Malaysian Water monitor (Varanus salvator macromaculatus) by an Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Biawak, 6(1), pp. 34-38, by International Varanid Interest Group.
- im, Kelvin
K. P. & Francis L K Lim, 1992. A
Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Singapore Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
- Baker, Nick
and Kelvin Lim. 2008. Wild
Animals of Singapore: A Photographic Guide to Mammals, Reptiles,
Amphibians and Freshwater Fishes
Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.
- Cox, Merel
J., Peter Paul van Dijk, Jarujin Nabhitabhata and Kumthorn Thirakhupt.
Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Thailand, Peninsular
Malaysia and Singapore