Water Monitor

The water monitor is an extremely large lizard — some individuals reach 10 feet in length, although most adults only grow to about 5 feet long. All monitors have forked tongues, making them the only reptiles other than snakes to posses this characteristic. Like snakes, this tongue lets them locate their prey through its scent.

In their native, near-water habitats throughout southern Asia, water monitors eat just about anything — insects, crabs, birds and eggs, fishes, amphibians, small mammals and even other reptiles and reptile eggs. When threatened, water monitors can climb trees to escape dangers such as large predatory snakes.

Although not endangered or threatened, water monitors are hunted for their meat and skin, which is often used in leather goods. There is a small trade in water monitors for the live animal trade, although they grow too large for most pet owners.

Get to know our water monitor and other extraordinary animal ambassadors at Animal Connections.

Q: Where are water monitors found?
SW: Water monitors live close to water in marshes and riverbanks throughout much of southern Asia, from India in the west to the Philippines and the Indo-Australian islands in the east. Their ability to swim in seawater has allowed them to colonize islands.

Q: How many eggs do females lay?
SW: Female water monitors lay 5 to 22 eggs per clutch in a termite mound, rotting or hollowed-out log, or burrow. The eggs hatch after about 200 to 330 days, although this can vary due to incubation conditions such as nest temperature.