Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Varanidae

Genus: Varanus

Specimen Description

The monitor lizard’s tail can account for more than half of the body’s total length, and the lizard is naturally disposed to use this formidable weapon with whip-like action. When confronted or even mildly agitated, the monitor will whip around with its muscular tail in an attempt to incapacitate its prey or any perceived enemy. When it decides to turn that tail on its human owner, it becomes a dangerous pet to own. This natural weapon makes it easy to see why this lizard is not recommended as a pet in general and why even the most experienced reptile enthusiasts must be careful around such a powerful creature. Considering that the monitor’s tail is capable of breaking the bones of a full-grown adult human and that its aggressive nature can cause the creature to turn on anyone at any time, it is of utmost importance that the lizards are kept far away from other pets and small children.

About the animal

There are at least 50 known species of monitor lizards, with new ones being discovered all the time. Some have been known to be as small as 8 inches, but most (such as the Nile monitor lizard that has become popular in Florida) can be quite large. They have long necks and sturdy limbs. Their claws are very sharp, and their tails typically account for half of their body length. Most species of monitor lizards stick to the ground, but some prefer to make their homes in trees or near water. Almost all species of monitor lizards are carnivorous, though a few will eat fruit.


All About Monitor Lizards

Defensive use of the tail in monitors – and also sauropods?