Water monitor

Water monitor

:"For large firefighting devices, see Fire monitor."Taxobox
name = Water Monitor

image_width = 240px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Reptilia
ordo = Squamata
subordo = Scleroglossa
familia = Varanidae
genus = "Varanus"
species = "V. salvator"
binomial = "Varanus salvator"
binomial_authority = (Laurenti, 1768)

The Water monitor, "Varanus salvator" is a large species of monitor lizard capable of growing up to 3 meters (9.8 ft) in length, but most adults are 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) long at most, and are close in size to the Komodo Dragon. Maximum weight of "Varanus salvator" can be over 75 kg, but most are half that size. Their body is muscular with a long powerful tail. Water monitors are perhaps the most common monitor lizards in Asia, and range from Sri Lanka, India, Indochina, the Malay Peninsula and various islands of Indonesia, living in tropical forested areas.

Water monitors are very opportunistic in their feeding, eating small mammals (like rats and monkeys), birds, reptiles, fish, insects, and carrion. Large adults can also attack deer.


The species has several geographic races:
* "adamanensis": Andaman Islands; Type locality: Port Blair, Andaman Islands.
* "bivittatus": Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Ombai (Alor), Wetar and some neighbouring islands within the Sunda arch, Indonesia; Type locality: Java (designated by Mertens 1959).
* "cumingi": Mindanao, Philippines; Type locality: Mindanao, Philippines.
* "komaini": Thailand. Type locality: Amphoe La-ngu, Satun Prov., Thailand, and Thai-Malaysian border area.
* "marmoratus": Islands of Luzon, Palawan, Calamian and Sulu archipelago, Philippines; Type locality: (restricted by Mertens 1942 to) San Mateo near Manila, Philippines.
* "nuchalis": Philippines (Cebu, Ticao, Negros, Panay and Masbate, Philippines); Type locality: Philippines.
* "salvator": entire range of the species with the exception of the Andaman Islands; Type locality: America (in error); emended to "Ceylon" (= Sri Lanka) by Mertens (1959).
* "togianus": Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia; Type locality: "Togian-Inseln (Timotto)" [Indonesia]


Water monitors can be aggressive using their tail, claws, and jaws when fighting. They are excellent swimmers, using the raised fin located on their tails to steer through water.


In Hong Kong, it is a protected species under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170. In Malaysia, this species is one of the most common wild animals around with numbers comparable to that of the population of macaques there. Although many fall prey to humans via road kill and animal cruelty, it still thrives in most states of Malaysia especially in the shrubs of the east-coast states such as Pahang and Terengganu. Malay "kampung" boys and young working class malay men often catch and kill water monitors for their own amusement although the widespread population of the species causes the lack of conservation attention.

In Culture

In Thailand, the word water monitor or actually local word 'เหี้ย' (hia) is used as an insulting word for bad and evil things including a bad person. Its name is also considered a word bringing a bad luck, so some people prefer to call them 'ตัวเงินตัวทอง' which means 'silver and gold' in Thai to avoid the jinx.

A water monitor portrayed a Komodo Dragon in the 1990 movie, The Freshman.



* Bennett, Daniel 1995 The water monitor "Varanus salvator" Reptilian 3 (8): 15-21
* Das, Indraneil 1988 New evidence of the occurrence of water monitor ("Varanus salvator") in Meghalaya J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 86: 253-255
* Deraniyagala, P. E. P. 1944 Four New Races of the "Kabaragoya" Lizard "Varanus salvator". Spolia Zeylanica 24: 59-62
* Pandav, Bivash 1993 A preliminary survey of the water monitor ("Varanus salvator") in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Orissa Hamadryad 18: 49-51
* Whitaker, Rom 1981 Bangladesh - Monitors and turtles Hamadryad 6 (3): 7-9

External links

* [http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Varanus_salvator.html Animal Diversity Web]
* [http://www.reptile-database.org/ The New Reptile Database]
* http://itgmv1.fzk.de/www/itg/uetz/herp/photos/Varanus_salvator.jpg
* http://itgmv1.fzk.de/www/itg/uetz/herp/photos/Varanus_salvator_cumingi.jpg
* [http://hygen.net/blog/?p=147 Photos - Water Monitor Swimming]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Water monitor — Wa ter mon i*tor (Zo[ o]l.) A very large lizard ({Varanaus salvator}) native of India. It frequents the borders of streams and swims actively. It becomes five or six feet long. Called also {two banded monitor}, and {kabaragoya}. The name is also… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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