Varanus niloticus (LINNAEUS 1766)
Nile Monitor


niloticusThe Nile Monitor is a member of the subgenera Polydaedalus. The major coloration on the back is grayish brown till dark olive-green. Yellow ocelli are ordered in crossrows across the back (MERTENS 1942d).
The nostril is oval and is situated closer to the eye than to the tip of the snout. 128-165 scale rows are around midbody. Specimen can reach an average total length of 150 cm with a SVL of approx. 50 cm. The largest animal known till now had a total length of 242 cm and a SVL of 98 cm (HAAKE & GROVES 1995). The animals are very strongly adapted to water, which could be seen on the laterally depressed tail.


Distribution, habitat and behavior


The Nile Monitor occurs from South Africa up to the southern border of the Sahara. In the west the distribution area reaches to Liberia. It is also found along the river Nile up to Egypt. This species does not inhabit the great deserts of Somalia, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa (MERTENS 1942d, LENZ 1995).
In the wild, V. niloticus use burrows as shelter, which they dig themselves or occupy already existing burrows. They are mainly located in sandy ground.

Keeping and breeding

Several papers are published on the successfull captive husbandry of this species (BRANCH & ERASMUS 1982, BOYCOTT & MORGAN 1988, BRANCH 1988). Up to 60 eggs are laid by V. niloticus, occasionally into a termite mount. The offspring hatch after 92-175 days at incubation temperatures between 27 and 32°C. Their body mass is approx. 23-32 g when hatching and they have a total length between 280 and 327 mm.