Wednesday 8 February 2012

Water monitor lizards

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore

As soon as we arrived we were shown a monitor lizard Varanus salvator sunbathing on a raft in a pond - great excitement. Soon after that we realised that they were literally all over the place, but they never failed to impress us as they are a rather large animal. They can reach 2 meters!

Large monitor lizard blocking the path

Or they were swimming in the lake while we had our lunch.

Water monitor swimming with the legs close to the body
It really didn't seem to move the legs at all, all the work was done by the tail perhaps.
Their tongues are forked and perhaps they use them to smell like the snakes do.

Tiny water monitor with its tongue fully extended
The males fight and we did see one fight; it took place in the water. Great splashes.
Also, we saw a male with a scar.

Large male with a gash in the middle of its back

Was it the result of a fight? The curious thing though is that unlike crocodiles their teeth didn't show up. Indeed they are rather a harmless reptile. However, they are carnivores; their prey is fish, birds, lizards, carrion, etc.

Water monitor with the month open. Note the nostrils are close to the end of the nose.
I have searched in the Internet for their teeth. No Luck.  If you know anything about it, do let me know.

Later, in the Sundarbans NP, we saw a water monitor by the edge of a mangrove. The same species but its skin was rather folded indicating old age.

Water monitor at low tide among the mangrove roots
It was a rather small animal by comparison to the ones in Singapore. But it caused great excitement in our boat, of course.

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