Varanus timorensis (GRAY 1831)
Timor Monitor


timorensisVaranus timorensis is part of the subgenera Odatria. MERTENS (1942d) discribed several subspecieses of this monitor. Since that V. similis, V. scalaris, V. glauerti, V. tristis tristis, and V. tristis orientalis where known as described subspecies of the Timor-Monitor. The same author described the new species V. tristis in his article about the monitors of Australia in 1958, and he also described the two subspecieses V. t. tristis and V. t. orientalis. V. glauerti was lifted up by him into species status.
In 1980 STORR lifted up V. scalaris into species status, and all Australian members of V. t. similis were put into the synonymy of V. scalaris. Therefore only the species Varanus timorensis was left from the formerly large group of the Timor-Monitor complex.
Animals of this species can reach a total length of up to 65 cm with a SVL of about 25 cm. The coloration and pattern consists of irregular distributed yellow to white spots on a dark grey body. The tail is round in diameter and is about 1.6 times the SVL. The coloration consists of clearly visible bands on the first half, the rest is uniformely grey to almost black.

Distribution, habitat and behavior


The distribution of Varanus timorensis is restricted to some Indonesian islands. The main distribution area is on the island of Timor, but this species is also found on Sawu and Roti Island. Some excellent observations in the wild have been published by SCHMUTZ & HORN (1985). You can see, that V. timorensis can inhabit several different conditions. This monitor species is known to be a tree climber, but certainly these monitors have to adapt themselves to the new habitat, because in their natural habitat a lot of trees were cut down. Now they occur in natural rock walls as well as they were found on palm trees.

Keeping and breeding
The behavior of V. timorensis has already been described frequently. Still great quantities of this species of monitors came into the trade some years ago. At that point, V. timorensis was traded as a monitor for beginners. This was not good for this species, because wild caught animals of this species are always very shy and will keep this behavior over a very long period in captivity. Therefore the interest in the captive husbandry has been lost very soon.
To give the animals a fairly good enclosure setting, we offer them an enclosure for tree climbers. Cork bark covers the sides and the back of the enclosure, to give the animals the possibility to climb. To keep the humidity high, we use damp wood chips as ground substrate. A fairly large water bowl in which the animals can take a bath should be offered. Also some hollow branches or cork tubes with a small diameter should be part of the furnishing.
Unfortunately, these monitors do not lose the shyness after a longer captive care. It is possible to keep a group of Timor Monitors (1 male and 2 females) together in one enclosure.
The breeding in captivity of Varanus timorensis is already described frequently (ANONYMUS 1981, BEHRMANN 1981, EIDENMÜLLER 1986). Also the mating behavior was already described in all details (MOEHN 1984). BEHRMANN (1981) reports of a couple, which laid a clutch of 7 eggs. The incubation happened in damp peat moss at temperatures between 30 and 34°C. After 93-100 days 2 young animals hatched, meassuring 15 cm total length.
timorensisEIDENMÜLLER (1986) reported about a female, which laid 11 eggs by which 4 were fertile. After an incubation period between 118 and 125 days the youngsters hatched. The total length of the babies were 19.6 cm in average and the average body mass was 5.6 g. Female Timor Monitors usually lay between 4 and 12 soft-shelled eggs. The female occasionally guards the clutch of eggs over several weeks. She is nevertheless engaged in replacing the nesting hill again and again if one removed the eggs, and has destroyed the nest therefore. Other animals which otherwise are tolerated are then immediately attacked as soon as they approach the egg hill. This behavior falls off after about eight weeks.
The common rearing of the offspring does not cause any problems. They are fed with house crickets, crickets, cockroaches and grasshoppers. Timor Monitors occasionally take also small fresh water fish. But do not forget to dust the insects with a vitamin-mineral mixture. With this feeding the animals grow without complication and reach the sexually maturity after about three years.