Varanus

Varanus spenceri LUCAS & FROST 1903
Spencer’s Monitor

 
spenceri
V. spenceri
Barkly Tableland, NT
spenceri
spenceri
V. spenceri
Barkly Tableland, NT
spenceri
V. spenceri
Tableland Highway, Qld

Varanus spenceri is a member of the subgenera Varanus. Normally the ground color is light brown, but the variation is from dirty creamwhite to a dark rusty brown, with scattered dark brown and creamy spots and flecks, which form light yellow or grey irregulary cross bands across the neck, the back, and the tail. The lips have bright and dark stripes. The lower side is cream-colored with medium grey or brown spots which are clearly visible especially on the throat. The head scales are irregular and smooth. The nostril is situated at the side, much closer to the tip of the snout than to the eye. 150-175 scale rows are around midbody. The diameter of the tail is more or less round at the base but the last half it is pressed together clearly at the side and carries a double keel. The tail is only insignificantly longer than SVL. The total length is up to 120 cm.

 

 

 


Distribution, habitat and behavior

spenceri

spenceriThe distribution of V. spenceri is restricted to the black soil country in the northern parts of Australia, from the Barkly Tableland in the Northern Territorry in the west across the border to Central Queensland in the east. In the wide, treeless areas this species lives in caves or in large crevices. The monitors foreage for food only, when the temperatures are moderate. That means, they are active only during the morning hours and in the late afternoon (MERTENS 1942d, 1958, KEAST 1959, WORRELL 1966, BUSTARD 1968, SWANSON 1976, PENGILLEY 1981, WILSON & KNOWLES 1988, HOSER 1989, COGGER 1992, EHMANN 1992).

 


Keeping and breeding
Nothing is published on captive husbandry of Varanus spenceri outside Australia. Only PETERS (1969, 1970, 1971) reports some aspects on breeding this species in captivity at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The couple lived in a common enclosure there. The female was already caught in the wild, while she was pregnant. Although this breeding is only an egg incubation actually, the informations resulting from this event are already interesting.
The 18 eggs were incubated in different substrates and at different temperatures. At an incubation temperature of 29.5°C 11 young animals hatched after 113-120 days. The hatchlings measured 22 cm. Some days after hatching the offspring started feeding. In the beginning the food consists of baby mice and larvae of the flour beetle (mealworm). After 6 weeks at good feeding they had grown very well and measured 45 cm. From that time on the babies were fed with beef heart, cut into stripes, and raw eggs.
   
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