Monitor Lizard (Varanus albigularis)
Great places to see the monitor lizard: Bandipur, Ranthambhore ,Bharatpur
With its long neck and powerful tail and claws, the monitor lizard is mostly terrestrial and carnivorous. Ominously exotic as most reptiles, this big lizard is known to maintain large territories and senses odours with its forked tongue akin to that of the snakes’.
These oviparous animals are partially venomous and are believed to have evolved into amphibians towards the end of the Cretaceous era. The etymology of the monitor lizard’s generic name ‘Varanus’ name finds its roots in Semitic ‘waran’ or ‘waral’ meaning ‘dragon’ or ‘lizard beast’. If the generic name rings a bell and takes you to the world of Japanese movie monsters, then you might find it interesting to know that one such character called ‘Varan’ was even inspired by the lizard’s name! Monitor lizards are petted, and contrarily, their meat is consumed in some parts of the world as an apparent aphrodisiac while their skin is used to make long-lasting leather.
Some species of varanid lizards are known to even count, to distinguish numbers up to six, and that’s why the monitor lizard is our Animal of the Week!