Indian or Bengal Monitor
lizard inflicts a powerful bite with its long,
strong and sharp teeth|
Photo Credit: Daniel Bennett (www.mampam.com)
This large varanid has a snout-vent length 815-900 mm, tail 1230 mm.
dorsum is olive to brown, with dark spottings. Ventrum yellowish, with
or without dark spottings, especially under the neck.
Essentially a burrower, it is also a good tree climber. During rainy
season it lives in tree holes feeding on birds and eggs, otherwise it
burrows in hard soil. It often climbs into thatched houses to feed on
nesting birds. In its burrow it wedges itself in by inflating its body
and fixing its claws to the walls so that it is difficult to pull it
out. It is a good runner and swimmer, it may remain submerged for a
considerable time. When foraging at its leisure, it moves sinuously
through the undergrowth, frequently flickering its tongue, looking for
any moving object. It has a wide range of food items: arthropods,
larvae, worms, frogs, lizards, snakes, birds, and mammals. It is known
to munch on carrion and killed mammals. When alarmed, it stands still
and tries to slip away unnoticed, however, when cornered, it defends
itself by hissing loudly, it elevates and arches its body toward
the intruder, and lunges and lashes its tail from side to side. It
inflicts a powerful bite with its long, strong and sharp teeth.
activity is observed from April to June. Rival males wrestle to
win over territories. Usually 6-12 leathery eggs averaging size of 29 x
15 mm in size and, weighing 20-30 eggs are laid in burrows.
name of this monitor lizard is misleading, for it is one of the most
widely distributed of the living varanids. The Bengal monitor
inhabits river valleys in eastern Iran, Afghanistan and western Pakistan
(Mertens 1942, 1959; Leviton & Anderson 1970; Luxmoore &
Groombridge 1990). Elsewhere in Pakistan it is widespread in many
different habitats, but reaches greatest abundance in agricultural areas
(Auffenberg et al 1991). This large varanid frequents moderately
dry forests, and extends into cultivated areas, where it
inhabits tracts of barren badland. It often invades inhabited houses,
attracted by poultry and rodents.
bengalensis has been recorded from Assam, Burma, Nepal, Sikkim, throughout India, and Sri Lanka. In Pakistan, it is reported from throughout
the plains of Punjab and Sindh, sub-Himalayan tracts,
Waziristan and extends westward into southeastern Iran and eastern
many years Bengal monitors have been collected on a large scale for
their meat and skins. Their skins is highly prized, particularly the
dark skins of specimens from Bengal. When commercial trade in the
species was outlawed by CITES in 1975 many countries ignored the ban.
Ten years later Japan was still importing hundreds of thousands of skins
from Bangladesh, Pakistan Thailand and Malaysia (Luxmoore &
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