Morni Wildlife: Common Indian Monitor

Common Indian Monitor/ Bengal Monitor (Varanus bengalensis) is a large lizard that can be upto 6 feet in length and can weigh over 7 kg (males being larger and heavier).The mature monitor is light brown/grey with dark spots. The younger monitors are more colourful and banded.The tongue is forked like the snake.The lizard is not poisonous.External slit like nostril openings are positioned between the snout and the eye.The monitor can close these openings when needed to keep out water etc. The teeth are fused to the jaw bones and are placed one behind another.The lungs of the monitor allow faster respiration and permit greater activity levels. The monitor is usually seen solitary hunting on the ground and feeds on insects, beetles, snails, ground birds and their eggs, rodents, frogs, lizards, snakes etc. It also feeds on fish and can climb trees to feed on roosting bats. It seeks shelter in burrows they dig or in rock crevices. It is diurnal and gets active with the sunrise and enjoys basking in sunlight. It is shy and scrambles into scrub on spotting humans.The Bengal monitor has a keen eyesight. It is preyed upon by pythons, birds and large predators. It can move fast on ground and is an efficient climber and swimmer.The strong claws of the monitor give it an iron grip while climbing and was said to have been used by Shivaji’s army for scaling over the walls of the enemy fort.The monitor lizard is hunted for its skin that is used to make percussion instruments. Its body parts are used for folk remedies.The meat and body parts are used as an aphrodisiac in Chinese traditional medicine. There is demand for its meat in winters due to ritualistic and mythical beliefs.

Bengal Monitor
Common Indian Monitor