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Varanus niloticus

(Nile Monitor)


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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in English:

Nile Monitor, Nile Monitor, Water Leguaan

Common Names in German:



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Physical Description

Species Varanus niloticus

Grows to 6 feet. It is dark brown-black with pale to yellow bands and spots forming broken cross bands on the body.


Stays close to water, and can dive for up to one hour. It is very agile on land and in the water. It is diurnal .

Typically found in the intertidal zone at the water's edge at a mean distance from sea level of 44.67 meters (146.56 feet).[1]

Biome: Coastal.


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Combat between males is frequently observed during the breeding season in some species. Monitors lay 7 to 35 soft-shelled eggs , usually deposited in holes in riverbanks or in trees along water courses . The Nile monitor often lays its eggs in termite nests . There is little or no sexual dimorphism (difference in appearance ).

Eggs are 2 inches long with leathery shells . Incubation is 8 to 10 weeks. The young use an egg tooth to emerge .


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Lacerta capensis Sparrman 1783: 749 • Lacerta monitor Linnaeus 1758: 201 • Lacerta nilotica Linnaeus 1766: 369 • Lacertus tupinambis LACÉPÈDE 1788< /i> (In Part) • Monitor elegans senegalensis Schlegel 1844 • Monitor niloticus Lichtenstein 1818 • Monitor pulcher Leach in Bowdich 1819 • Stellio saurus Laurenti 1768: 56 • Tupinambis elegans DAUDIN 1802< /i> (In Part) • Tupinambis stellatus DAUDIN 1802< /i> (In Part) • Varanus niloticus — Ast 2001 • Varanus niloticus — Auerbach 1987: 136 • Varanus niloticus — Boulenger 1885: 317 • Varanus niloticus — De Lisle 1996: 131 • Varanus niloticus — DumÉril & Bibron 1836: 476 • Varanus niloticus — Fitzinger 1826: 50 • Varanus niloticus — Schmidt 1919: 485 • Varanus< /i> (Polydaedalus) Niloticus - Mertens 1942


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Comment: SCHMIDT’s Varanus niloticus might represent both V. niloticus (specimens from savanna localities) and V. ornatus (specimens from rain forest localities). For a detailed distrubtion map and locality data see BAYLESS (2002).

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Varanus

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 55 species and subspecies in this genus:

V. acanthurus (Spiny-Tailed Monitor) · V. albigularis (White-Throated Monitor) · V. albigularis albigularis (White-Throated Monitor Lizard) · V. baritji (Black-Spotted Ridge-Tailed Momitor) · V. beccarii (Black Tree Monitor) · V. bengalensis (Bengal Monitor Lizard) · V. bogerti (Bogert's Monitor) · V. brevicauda (Short-Tailed Pygmy Monitor) · V. caerulivirens (Turquoise Monitor) · V. caudolineatus (Line-Tailed Pygmy Monitor) · V. doreanus (Bluetail Monitor) · V. dumerilii (Dumeril Monitor) · V. eremius (Rusty Desert Monitor) · V. exanthematicus (Savannah Monitor Lizard) · V. finschi (Finsch's Monitor) · V. flavescens (Calcutta Oval-Grain Lizard) · V. giganteus (Perentie) · V. gilleni (Pigmy Mulga Monitor) · V. glauerti (Glauert's Monitor) · V. glebopalma (Black-Palmed Rock Monitor) · V. gouldii (Sand Goanna) · V. griseus (Desert Monitor) · V. griseus griseus (Desert Monitor) · V. indicus (Indian Monitor Lizard) · V. indicus rouxi (Indian Monitor Lizard) · V. jobiensis (Peach-Throated Monitor) · V. keithhornei (Nesbit River Monitor) · V. kingorum (Pygmy Rock Monitor) · V. komodoensis (Komodo Dragon) · V. mabitang (Panay Monitor Lizard) · V. mertensi (Mertens's Water Monitor) · V. nebulosus (Clouded Monitor) · V. niloticus (Nile Monitor) · V. olivaceus (Gray's Monitor) · V. panoptes (Argus Monitor) · V. panoptes panoptes (Yellow-Spotted Monitor) · V. pilbarensis (Pilbara Rock Monitor) · V. prasinus (Green Tree Monitor) · V. primordius (Northern Blunt-Spined Monitor) · V. rosenbergi (Heath Monitor) · V. rudicollis (Roughneck Monitor) · V. salvadori (Crocodile Monitor Lizard) · V. salvadorii (Crocodile Monitor) · V. salvator (Common Water Monitor) · V. salvator salvator (Common Water Monitor) · V. salvator togianus (Common Water Monitor) · V. scalaris (Banded Tree Monitor) · V. salvator subsp. salvator (Common Water Monitor) · V. spenceri (Spencer's Monitor) · V. spinulosus (Solomon Island Spiny Monitor) · V. storri (Storr's Monitor) · V. timorensis (Spotted Tree Monitor) · V. tristis (Black-Headed Monitor) · V. varius (Lace Monitor) · V. yemenensis (Yemen Monitor)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 27, 2008:



  1. Standard Deviation = 983.600 based on 18 observations. Terrestrial altitude and ocean depth information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-05-23