Monitoring Monitors

It is often overlooked, but around our lodge you may well encounter a Monitor Lizard (also known as “Likkewaan”). We have two species in the area: the Water Monitor and the Rock Monitor. Both are beautiful reptiles, but quite different from each other.

The Water Monitor: Although usually found close to water, these monitors are not water-dependent and will actively forage for food on land, travelling large distances from water if need be. They are also capable of climbing trees, but are usually found basking on riverbanks. The streamlined shape of the body is perfect for a semi-aquatic lifestyle, and the Water Monitor uses its long, strong tail to propel itself through the water with ease. Its colour will vary for area to area, but a general rule of thumb is that the Water Monitor has tints of green, yellow and even a little brown.

They are carnivores and their diet consist of whatever is on offer. Water Monitors have been recorded eating anything from frogs, crabs, invertebrates, and lizards to small mammals and birds.

They have large claws on their feet which they use to great effect when digging up nests, as well as in self-defence.

Interesting Fact: It sounds crazy, but they are the number one crocodile killer in the world. They would not be able to kill an adult crocodile, but they raid the nests of the crocodiles, eating the eggs along with eating hatchlings.

When threatened, Rock Monitors will defend themselves with powerful lashes from their tails.

The Rock Monitor: Also known as the White-throated Monitor, Rock Monitors are diurnal predators, feeding on anything small enough to overpower, mainly invertebrates and smaller reptiles, carrion, and baby tortoises. At night they hole up in burrows, under or between rocks, or in large holes in trees.

The bulbous, convex snout gives it an angular, box-like appearance. The Rock Monitor has a brownish appearance, as seen in these photographs. When threatened, Rock Monitors will defend themselves with powerful lashes from their tails, failing which it will “play dead” in the hope that the attacker will lose interest and move on.

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