Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mangrove Monitor

Varanus indicus
Mangrove Monitors, if you couldn't guess, as lizards that live near mangrove swamps, lakes, and rivers. They have an absolutely massive distribution, and are found in Australia, New Guinea, and on dozens of Pacific Islands.

They didn't always live in so many places, in fact, in most cases the spread only happened a few decades ago. Sailors transported the lizards before and during World War II.

Because of their large range and fragmentation, there is a great deal of variation in these lizards. Individuals on some islands are larger than others, and they also differ in coloration. Overall though, they stay below 5ft in total length, with their long tails making up at least half of that.

Those very tails help the Mangrove Monitors to swim, and they are excellent climbers as well. Being able to hunt in water, on land, and in trees means that they have a very diverse diet. They eat fish, birds, rodents, crustaceans, and other reptiles. They can actually eat large prey due to their ability to drop their lower jaw, similar to snakes (but not quite the same).

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Australia, New Guinea, Pacific Islands
Size : Length up to 1.5m
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Squamata
Family : Varanidae -- Genus : Varanus -- Species : V. indicus
Image : Cliff

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