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Argus Monitor

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Species group:

Other common names: Yellow-spotted Monitor

Scientific name: Varanus panoptes

The basics:
Argus Monitors are native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea. As riparians, they inhabit areas near a permanent source of water, such as riverbanks and coastal areas.

Appearance / health:
Argus Monitors are terrestrial lizards that are stocky (though leaner compared to other Monitor lizards) and strong, maturing to a total length of 3 feet in females and 4 feet in males. The base body color is black, dark brown, or grayish tan, depending on their place of origin. Yellow markings (combination of spots, reticulated patterns, and lines) appear all over the body. The head is triangular and the neck is long. The limbs and tail are muscular. The strong hind limbs and muscular tail helps balance the lizard when it stands on a “tripod” manner as it tries to spot its prey. It has a forked tongue that flicks in the air to “smell” the food.

Behavior / temperament:
Argus Monitors are opportunistic predators and will attack any small animal for food. What is unusual about them is their ability to stand on their hind legs supported by the tail in order to scout the area for prey. They are fast and brusquely active, and dislike being handled or restrained.

Housing:
These 4-foot Argus Monitors are best kept in sturdy enclosures that will accommodate their size, foraging nature, and heat requirements. Accessories should include rocks, sturdy plants, vines, branches, and a substrate deep enough to allow the lizard to burrow. A large water dish is recommended for drinking and soaking.

Fresh water should be provided daily.

Diet:
Argus Monitors are carnivorous, requiring large meals of insects, birds, rodents, crabs, fish, and other lizards. It has a voracious appetite and will consume any animal it can subdue.

Breeding:
Argus Monitors are oviparous, laying clutches of 6-13 eggs in early spring.