Saturday, April 16, 2011
Species of the Day: Asian Water Monitor
Scientific Name: Varanus salvator
Adult Size: Average 3 to 5 feet in length. Maximum lengths of 8 1/2 to 9 feet
Average Life-Span: about 25 years
Range: Eastern India and Sri Lanka, eastward throughout south-east Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines
Habitat: Permanent water sources including rivers, lakes and streams in tropical forests
The Asian water monitor is the 3rd largest species of lizard in the world, with the largest specimen recorded being over 10 feet in length and weighing in at a whopping 125 pounds. These are formidable animals and should never be taken lightly, however with proper care and socialization I've seen quite a few individuals that were quite easy going and tame. Because of their huge size, Asian water monitors require spacious, well-constructed enclosures; preferably outdoors if you live in a warm climate, if not, it may be best to convert a small bedroom into an enclosure. As their name implies, water monitors are semi-aquatic and captive specimens need to be provided with an area of water large enough for them to be able to submerge their entire bodies in, along with sturdy climbing branches for exercise and basking.
Asian water monitors are indiscriminate feeders, meaning that they will consume anything they deem edible that they come across in the wild, including rodents, insects, fish, refuse from landfills, beached whales and even the toxic marine cane toad, from which they seem to get no ill effects from. Now, this doesn't mean to just go ahead and feed them garbage and toads, but to try and provide them a varied diet which should include rodents, fish, crustaceans and large insects. Water monitors require moderate to high temperatures in the range of 82 and 90 degrees F with a warmer basking spot up to 95 or 97 degrees. Not in any way for the beginner but I've seen many experienced keepers turn these giant lizards into cherished family pets, and you can expect them to be with you for quite a while.