Savannah Monitor Lizard
Varanus exanthematicus exanthematicus
Names and Personal History:
Savannah: Although Savannah's age and sex is unknown it can be estimated that this lizard is approximately 3-4 years old. Savannah was donated to us by a college professor.
Savannah monitors range throughout sub-saharan Africa from Senegal to Eritrea and Nothern Zaire.
Savannah monitors are often ground-dwelling and will take shelter in burrows that have been abandoned by other animals. Apparently the young lizards from the coastal areas of Ghana are often found in the burrows of a certain species of giant cricket. Monitors are primarily diurnal and Savannah's live in particularily arid areas and will often be active even in the hottest part of the day.
Savannah's are a stocky species that reach a maximum length of about 3ft. They can reach this size in a relatively short time of just 2 years.
Many biologists consider monitor lizards to be distant cousins to snakes because of the fact that they both have long forked tongues. However, their closest living relatives are the helodermatid family to which the Gila Monster and Beaded Lizard belong.
Savannah's are predominately predatory on smaller species of rodents and reptiles, as well as insects, snails, and sometimes fish. They will also supplement their diet with carrion when needed.