Varanus griseus (DAUDIN 1803)
Desert Monitor
subspecies: V. g. griseus (DAUDIN 1803)
V. g. caspius EICHWALD 1931
V. g. koniecznyi MERTENS 1954
V. griseus caspius
courtesy of H.-P. Berghof
The Desert Monitor with the three subspecieses belongs to the subgenera Psammosaurus. The animals can reach a total length of up to 150 cm.
The tail is round in the diameter (V. g. griseus).
Animals of the subspecies V. g. caspius have a tail pressed together in the second half. A clear keel is visible on the top side.
In the subspecies V. g. koniecznyi the tail is pressed together as well, but unlike V. g. caspius no keel can be seen on the top side of the second half of the tail. It can reach 1.2-1.7 times the SVL. The back is covered with 5-8 gray cross bands which however seem more faded with older animals of the type species. A bright spot pattern then can be recognized. The tail carries 19-28 cross bands, which extend up to the top.
V. g. caspius also has 5-8 cross bands on the back. The bands are very narrow and have pale yellow to pink color. On the tail 13-19 cross bands can be seen, the tip of the tail is without any pattern.
V. g. koniecznyi has 3-5 broad grey cross bands on the back, the tail has 8-15 dark bands. The tip of the tail is also without pattern in this subspecies.

Distribution, habitat and behavior


V. g. griseus occurs from Marocco in the west across Algeria, Tunesia, Libya, Egypt, and Soudan in the east. This species occurs also in Israel, Libanon, Jordan, Iraq, and the southern parts of Turkey (AKTAN 1971, MERTENS 1954, STANNER & MENDELSSON 1983).
V. g. caspius occurs from southern Kasachstan along the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea to the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Usbekistan, Kyrgisien and Tadshikistan. It is proposed, that V. g. caspius also occurs in Iran and Afghanistan (AKTAN 1971, MERTENS 1954).
V. g. koniecznyi is known from Pakistan and northwest India (MERTENS 1954).

Keeping and breeding
The enclosure for this species should be build for a ground dweller. Sand is used as substrate. Some big bolders, which must be secured, so that the animals could not remove them while digging, and some cork plates are used as cover. A water bowl is always necessary.
Large insects (e.g. locusts and cockroaches), mice, and chicks are offered as food.
It is necessary to let the monitors hibernate for 3 to 5 months at temperatures down to 12°C.
PERRY et al. (1993) reported a breeding success. Here a female laid 7 eggs. At incubation temperatures between 29-31°C the babies hatched after 120 days. The offspring had a SVL of 100 mm and the total lenght was 250 mm.