Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mertens' Water Monitor

Mertens' Water Monitor at the National Zoo
The Mertens' Water Monitor is yet another creature that I encountered on my recent travels, albeit once again in a captive setting.

Mertens' Water Monitors live natively in northern Australia, hanging out near watery habitats like rivers, ponds, and streams. They are the most aquatic of all the Monitor Lizards, and are wonderful swimmers. They can even hold their breaths underwater for several minutes with help from nostril flaps that keep water out during dives.

Their aquatic nature allows these lizards to feed on both land and in water, and some of their favorite meals include frogs, fish, and carrion. They also have great senses of smell which help them to find and forage for other snacks like turtle eggs and invertebrates.

Mertens' Water Monitors are not listed by the IUCN, but they are considered Vulnerable by the local government. Their decline is due in part to the introduction of Cane Toads to the area, which are poisonous to the Lizards.

IUCN Status :  Not listed
Location : Northern Australia
Size : Length up to 3.2ft (1m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Squamata
Family : Varanidae -- Genus : Varanus -- Species : V. mertensi

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