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Monitor lizard

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Monitor lizard
Scientific Classification

Monitor lizards belong to the family Varanidae, which is a group of lizards that includes the largest living lizard, the Komodo Dragon. Varanidae contains only a single genus, Varanus. Many believe that such creatures have inhabitated the earth since prehistoric times. Monitor lizards have been known to grow up to 33 feet long. The largest monitor lizard ever recorded was approximetly 365 pounds (Komodo Dragon). Monitor lizards are very fierce predators, which live in many different countries such as Africa, Asia, Arabia, the East Indies, and Australia, as well as Indonesia.


Monitor Lizards vary greatly in size. The size ranges from about 20 cm. to 8-10 feet long. One characteristic that sets monitor lizards apart is there long forked tongue, which resembles the tongue of a snake. Because of their large mouth they are able to swallow large prey whole. There bodies consist of a long neck, tapered, strong legs, and long powerful tails which are used as protection when predators approach.


Many species of Monitor lizard hold their heads up and erect at all times, and often attempt to intimidate its predators by violently moving their tails from side to side, along with inflating their throats, and creating a hissing sound. Most monitor lizards are agile and are able to climb as well as swim. When threatened, many species of lizard inhale large amounts of air allowing the organism to appear larger than it actually is.[1]


In Monitor lizards, reproduction occurs sexually. As a result of sexual reproduction, an egg is formed, but rarely an egg is developed by parthenogenesis, which is development of an egg without fertilization.


The head of the monitor is large which allows the organism to swallow large prey such as birds, reptiles, small mammals, their own eggs, and insects. The monitor lizards are brutal predators. They are sometimes also scavengers. Because its mouth carries a virulent bacteria, when its prey is bitten, it may be fatal because of bacteria that enters into the body. Also, to help control prey, Monitor lizards also have venom-secreting glands in their mouth that give off low amounts of venom.

Origin of name

For many years it was widely believed that the name monitor lizard came from the behavior of the lizard to give off a warning when crocodiles or alligators in in the near area. But it has been recently discovered that the name actually was a result from a mishearing of the Arabic word "oaran" meaning, and the German word "warnen" meaning to warn, which was as a result Latinized into monitor.[2]