Did you know that there is more than one giant reptile that roams the Nile?
The Nile Monitor may not be as scary as crocodiles that patrol the same waterways, but Africa’s longest lizard is an impressive animal that can reach more than two meters lengthways.
A strong swimmer, fast runner and voracious predator, the Nile monitor lizard lives across much of Africa, although it is more at home. in or around water.
Well adapted to its environment, this long lizard has several adaptations including a long, flattened tail for easier swimming and high nostrils on the snout to stay submerged longer.
Want to know more about Africa’s longest lizard?
Whether you are a reptile lover or simply curious about African animals, these 12 Facts About the Nile Monitor will shed light on an interesting species.
1. It is the longest in Africa (and the 4th in the world)th Longest) Lizard
Nile monitor lizards hold the title “Africa’s longest lizard”. Only three Asian species measure longer from head to tail.
Males are on average larger than females, most between 1.5 to 1.7 meters long. Some span more than two meters, while the largest reliably measured individual was 2.42 m.
This is largely due to the monitor’s long tail, which can be 1.5 times the length of the lizard’s body.
Nile monitor lizards may also be the largest lizards in Africa in terms of mass. Most weigh between 1 and 15 kg, while the largest tip the scales at 20kg.
THE rock monitor is the only other competitor on the continent. It’s not that long, with a maximum length of just over two meters.
Some sources claim the average weight to be heavier than that of the Nile monitor lizard, although the largest males only reach around 17kg.
2. Nile Monitor Appearance: Cute Patterns and Forked Tongue
The Nile Monitors are one of the 80 species monitor lizards like Varanus. These lizards are known to be pursuit predators with powerful tails and claws.
The largest lizard in the world, the Komodo dragon’is also part of this group.
Nile monitor lizards, and all other monitor lizards, also have a forked tongue like a snake, which they use primarily to “smell” the air.
To complete the look of the Nile Monitor, some striking scale patterns which vary depending on the individual. Many are gray-brown or olive green in color, with greenish-yellow bars and spots.
3. A lizard with many names
The name “Nile Monitor” is pretty descriptive, if a little misleading – it’s not. just live in and around the Nile.
These lizards go by many other names, including African small-grained lizard, Leguaan RiverAnd potable water.
“Leguaan” is a South African word that comes from “iguana” (another group of lizards) but refers to monitor lizards.
4. Nile Monitor Habitat: Riverine Reptiles
As the name suggests, Nile monitor lizards can be found along much of the Nile River. They extend as far north as Egyptalthough they are absent from the rest of North Africa and the Sahara.
Nile monitor lizards are also found throughout much of the Sub-Saharan Africaavoiding desert regions but living in a variety of other habitats like forests, wetlands and savannahalways near water.
5. They are good swimmers (and climbers)
As you would expect from a species so closely linked to water, Nile monitor lizards are excellent swimmers and spend a lot of time hunting in and around rivers and lakes.
Their long, powerful tail propels them through the water and they can stay submerged for up to 15 minutes.
These multi-talented monitor lizards are also great climberseasily climb trees.
6. How fast is a Nile monitor? Very!
Aside from its swimming skills, this fast reptile is also fast on earth.
Exactly how fast is a Nile monitor lizard? It’s hard to say, unless scientists get out their stopwatches to do more detailed studies.
Online sources differ, with figures ranging from 18 mph to 30 mph but little evidence to support these figures.
The perentie, an Australian monitor lizard of similar size, has been clocked at 25 mph (40 km/h) and is considered the fastest lizard in the world.
So the truth could be somewhere in between the figures above. Either way, the Nile Monitor could probably beat many humans in a foot race!
7. They eat crocodiles…
GOOD, kind of.
Nile monitor lizards are carnivorous and these voracious reptiles feed on a variety of animals, including other lizards, snakes, amphibians, rodents, fish, birds, invertebrates and more. Their teeth are quite blunt, but powerful enough to crush hard-shelled molluscs.
Nile monitors wouldn’t be stupid enough to try to take on an adult crocodile, but baby fangs and particularly crocodile eggs are also on the menu. Lizards only need to “monitor” their surroundings to ensure that vengeful parents don’t return!
We even know that sneaky lizards cooperate in pairswith one monitor distracting a mother crocodile and the other snatching eggs.
8… But crocodiles eat them too
Nile monitor lizards may be predators, but in the world they live in, they are also predators. prey for several species.
Crocodiles, snakesAnd large birds of prey as the martial eagle everyone will attack these lizards. Young instructors are also vulnerable to fish while swimming.
The Nile monitors do not exceed a little cannibalismeither, larger individuals sometimes nibbling on their smaller brothers.
Preparing a meal with this feisty lizard is no easy task. When threatened, Nile Watchers can lash out with their powerful tail or use their claws. If all else fails, they issue a foul-smelling substance to deter attackers.
9. Females lay (many) eggs in termite mounds
Nile monitor lizards may dig their own burrows or occupy those dug by other animals, although females will often choose an interesting location to lay their eggs: termite mounds.
During the rainy season, the female enters an active termite nest and lays her eggs. The termites then repair the mound, leaving the lizard’s eggs to incubate safely inside in warm, humid conditions.
Nile monitor lizards make the largest broods of all lizards – up to 60 eggs. After nine months of incubation, the baby lizards hatch, waiting for rain to soften the termite mound and hollow out.
If the offspring fail to get out, the mother may return to give them a helping hand, but after that they are on their own.
10. They could be two separate species
Deciding what constitutes a distinct species can sometimes native scientists.
Currently, the Nile monitor lizard is considered a species (Varanus niloticus). There has been recent debate over whether the Nile Monitor in West Africa (Varanus niloticus stellatus) is distinct enough to constitute its own species: Varanus stellatus.
Genetic studies suggest West Africa’s Nile monitor split 7.7 million years ago – humans and chimpanzees diverged much longer ago!
11. Nile monitor lizards do not make good pets
With their attractive patterns, it’s no surprise that some reptile enthusiasts want a Nile monitor lizard as a pet.
Unlike some smaller, more docile African lizards, like the big-tailed geckoNile monitors does not do very well in captivity.
These lizards don’t just sit around in a small aquarium – they need space and are highly activenot to mention aggressive.
With their powerful tails, claws and teeth, Nile monitor lizards could even cause damage to their owners. Even tame individuals can to bite Or scratch when he is stressed.
In the wild, these lizards have a varied diet and eat a lot. This means expensive food bills that will only increase as the pet ages.
Baby Nile Monitors may look cute, but these large lizards can quickly exceed their enclosuresleading many pet owners to abandon their adult pets.
Overall, Nile monitors are only suitable for experienced and dedicated reptile owners.
12. Also found in… Florida?
The natural range of the Nile monitor lizard may be limited to Africa, but some widely traveled specimens have reached the UNITED STATES.
Florida has become a hotspot for the Nile monitor lizard, considered a invasive species in the USA.
The non-native lizard has established a population in many areas of the state, originating from individuals either escape from captivityOr being released.
Another risk is keeping unsuitable animals as pets.
Discover these large lizards on Safari
By far the best way to see Nile monitor lizards is through nature’s intended trail, wandering in their natural African habitat.
Most people, aside from lizard enthusiasts, probably won’t go on safari specifically to see Nile monitor lizards. Still, watching Africa’s longest lizard in action can be a great experience.
If you’re looking to see these intriguing reptiles, you have a good chance. They are widely distributed in most countries popular for African safaris and classified as “Least concern” on the IUCN Red List.
If you are near the river, you have a good chance of laying eyes on this lizard. Discover some of the best safari countries in Africa and keep your eyes peeled for a slender figure gliding through the water.