February

Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis)

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Family: Varanidae.

Length: 100-150cm.

Description: The rock monitor is smaller than the nile monitor. It has strong, stocky limbs and an large swollen snout. The tail is longer than the body and the body is dark brown/grey with dark blotches spread across the back. the juveniles are more vividly coloured than adults with a less pronounced snout.

Distribution: It is found throughout the savannah and semi-arid regions of the southern and eastern parts of Southern Africa. It is absent from western Western Cape and the southern Northern Cape.

Habitat: Closely associated with rocky outcrops where it tunnels underneath rock overhangs to create burrows. Also known to use abandoned animal burrows and climb trees.

Reproduction: Lays 8-50 eggs in soft soil.

Diet:  Mainly invertebrates but will hunt and eat animals small enough to swallow. Also eats carrion and baby tortoises.

Predators: The martial eagle is the main predator of adults.

Conservation concern: Common and widespread, no concern.

Threat to humans: Non-venomous, but an adult may bite or thrash their powerful tail if they feel threatened.

Interesting facts: If threatened, the rock monitor may eject its cloacal contents or sham death.

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Resources:

Bates, M.F., Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M., Burger, M., Marais, J., Alexander, G.J. & de Villiers, M.S. (eds). 2014. (CD set). Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Branch, B. 1994. Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town. STRUIK.

Branch, B. 2016. Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town. STRUIK Nature.

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