Creature Feature: Nile Monitor Lizard

Nile Monitor Lizard

Varanus niloticus

Reptiles Alive Name: “Logan”nile_monitor

Hissstory: On September 2, 2000, a person having breakfast looked out their window and saw a “Komodo Dragon” hanging on their bird feeder.  He called the Wildlife Center of Virginia and explained the situation.  The Wildlife Center was able to capture the dragon, which turned out to be an escaped or abandoned African Nile monitor lizard.  The Wildlife Center called us, and we agreed to provide the monitor lizard with a home.

RA Diet: Logan loves to eat dead mice, roaches, crickets, and sometimes, cooked chicken eggs.

Natural Diet: These huge, carnivorous lizards eat just about anything!  Insects, eggs (including crocodile eggs), snakes, rodents, other lizards, birds, and even baby crocodiles can all be dinner for a Nile monitor lizards.

Range: Most of Africa including northern Egypt to Sudan and south to South Africa.

Habitat: If there is a river or lake or other water source, and you are in Africa, you are probably in Nile monitor habitat.

Size: Nile monitors are one of the largest lizards in the world.  They can grow 5-7 feet long. The record is 8 feet long.

Life span: Monitors can live over 20 years.

Reproduction: Nile monitors lay 10-60 eggs in a nest they dug in the ground. They especially like making nests inside of termite mounds. The eggs will incubate around 9-10 months. When they hatch, Baby monitors are only 6-8 inches long, but they will grow to 20 inches in a year.

Conservation: Threats include habitat loss,  and poaching for bush meat and the skin trade. Nile monitors are protected under CITES Appendix II.

There are several large populations of these lizards throughout Florida. People illegally released them into the wild after they were no longer wanted as pets. Nile monitors eat nearly any animal, making them a threat to native American wildlife. There are no natural predators for them in the United States. Current evidence suggests that total eradication of this species from Florida is no longer feasible and the population may be spreading!

Cool Facts: Scientists have found out recently that female Nile monitors often come back to their nests when the babies are beginning to hatch. She will help the babies by gently digging the eggs and hatchlings out of the ground.