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Rock or White Throated Monitor Varanus Albigularis

Rock or White-throated Monitor Varanus albigularis

SVL 400-500mm; Maximum. SVL 850mm, TL 1 750mm.

This very large, stout lizard has strong, robust limbs and sharp claws. The skin is tough and covered with small bead-like scales in 110-167 rows down the middle of the body. The head has a bulbous snout, with the nostrils split and closer to the eyes than to the tip of the snout. The tail is longer than the body and cylindrical at the base but compressed towards the tip. The back is dark gray-brown above, with 5-6 pale yellow spots with dark edges. The upper part of the head and neck is dark brown. The limbs are spotted with pale yellow and the tail is streaked with dark brown and whitish. The belly is dirty yellow with scattered spots. Juveniles are more heavily marked and despite the common name referring to the white throat of the adults, have a black throat.

Biology and Breeding

This monitor lives in a tunnel it digs under rock ledges or in an unused animal burrow, a hole in a tree or a rock crevice. It is usually solitary and hibernates, semi-dormant in its winter retreat. His skin is usually dulled with dirt and grime, and stained with patches of dirty skin. It is also well decorated with ticks on the soft skin around the eyes, nostrils and joints of the limbs. The diet consists mainly of invertebrates (millipedes, beetles, grasshoppers and land snails) although it will kill and eat any animal small enough to swallow and will also scavenge carcasses. baby turtles are often eaten. In defense it adopts a sideways stance and whips its tail. He will bite and hold on like a bulldog. If held behind the head, it usually spews out the contents of the cloacal, and may finally feign death by hanging limp (but keeping its eyes open). If this trick works and is released, it pops a fuse at the first opportunity.

The golden eagle (wingspan 188–227 cm (6.17–7.45 ft)) and the osprey are the main predators of the adults.

It rarely tames in captivity and due to its size it needs a large enclosure. The flesh is reported to taste like chicken, but this display is protected by provincial legislation (CITES, Appendix 11). They are great roamers and can have a range of up to 28 square kilometers.

Mating takes place in August-September. The female may occasionally lay her eggs in a living termite nest, as the Nile monitor does, or even in a hollow tree, but usually uses a hole dug in soft moist soil. He may dig several “test holes” before choosing a suitable spot. In early summer (October-November) eight to 51 eggs (53-61 x 35-39 mm, 32-46 g) are laid, depending on the size of the female. Eggs hatch in 110-120 days in captivity (27 C), but take much longer in the wild. Hatchlings measure 220-282 mm TL and weigh 18-21 grams. Many clutches are eaten by the banded mongoose.

Habitat & Range

Savannah and wetter caroid areas. Throughout the Savannah and semi-desert regions of the subcontinent, but absent from the W. Cape. Elsewhere, in the East African Savannah.

Subspecies

Only the typical race occurs in the subcontinent. It has 137-167 mid-scale rows and a white throat in adults. An ill-defined race, Va angolensis, from Angola and neighboring NW Zambia, has large scales on the head and along the spine and retains the black throat in adults. It has only 110-138 rows of medium scale. A small species of V. exanthematicus from the West African Savanna has a more uniform color pattern, lacks the white throat, and has enlarged scales on the back of the neck and only 75-100 midscale rows. now treated as a separate species.

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