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What Is a Savannah Monitor Lizard?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
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A savannah monitor lizard is a reptile naturally found in the savannah grasslands of Africa. This scaly animal is gray to brown in coloring, with brown and yellow rings on its tail, and a blue tongue that is snake-like. In addition, the savannah monitor lizard has a double-toothed crest, front legs with sharp claws, and a tapered tail. Also, it is able to turn its head in every direction. An adult savannah monitor lizard weighs approximately 11 to 13 pounds (about 5 to 6 kilograms), and it is approximately between 3 and 5 feet (about 1 to 1.5 meters) in length.

There are a few differences between the male and female savannah monitor lizard. In general, the male monitor is slightly larger in size than the female monitor. Also, the male monitor exhibits a shorter tail while the female monitor usually has a heavier body. As a territorial creature, the male monitor will hiss, as well as thrash its tail, before it strikes at another male. Overall, the monitor will avoid interacting with humans if possible and might even pretend to be dead in the presence of a human being, in an attempt to evade capture.

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The female monitor will lay her eggs, between 20 and 50 at a time, in a hole or termite mound. These eggs hatch in the months of March and April, and the hatchlings measure approximately 4.72 inches (120 millimeters) in length and weigh 0.02 pounds (about 0.01 kilograms). Even though they are so small, the hatchlings will experience rapid growth during their first months of life. To avoid predators after hatching, a young monitor will remain in burrows or trees. In contrast, an adult monitor will usually reside on the ground.

Like snakes, the savannah monitor lizard can eat prey that is bigger in size than itself. For an adult, food consists of an array of animals including birds, carrion and small mammals, as well as snails and snakes. A young monitor will eat insects. The monitor’s active and dormant periods affect its intake of food, as the animal is active in daylight when it is warm, and dormant when the weather is cool, or if there is a drought. During the wet season, the monitor will eat as much as it can because there is plenty of food, and during the dry season, the monitor will survive off its fat reserves because it is dormant.

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