Nile monitor lizards are native to Africa. Nile monitors can grow from 3’ 11” to 7’ 3” in length. The largest specimens can grow up to 8 feet. An average-size Nile monitor from snout-to-vent will be around 1’ 8”. Adults have a body mass between 1.8 to 3.7 pounds. Some have stated weights ranging from 13 to 33 pounds. It is suspected the variations may be due to age or environmental conditions.

They have muscular bodies, strong legs, and powerful jaws. Their teeth are sharp and pointed in juvenile animals and become blunt and peg-like in adults. Sharp claws are used for climbing, digging, defense, or tearing at their prey. Like all monitors, they have forked tongues and highly developed olfactory properties. Skin patterns in the Nile monitor are quite striking but variable as they are greyish-brown with greenish-yellow barring on the tail and large, greenish-yellow rosette-like spots on their backs with a blackish tiny spot in the middle. A Nile monitor’s, throat and underside are an ochre-yellow to a creamy-yellow, often with a faint barring.

Since their nostrils are placed high on their snouts, these animals are highly aquatic.

Excellent climbers and quick runners on land, they feed on fish, snails, frogs, crocodile eggs, young snakes, birds, small mammals, insects, and carrion. They are the second largest reptile in the Nile river.

They have been breeding Nile monitors in Florida since the 1990s. They can be found in Lee County and especially Cape Coral and the surrounding areas. You will also find them in Sanibel, Captiva and North Captiva, Pine Island Fort Myers and Punta Rassa. You will also find sizable numbers along State Road 80 in Palm Beach County. The potential for established populations of Nile monitors in Florida to negatively impact indigenous alligators and crocodile is enormous. The Nile monitors will raid alligator and crocodile nests, eat their eggs, and pray on the small. There is evidence that indicates a high rate of domestic pets and feral cats disappearing in Cape Coral.

 

Photo by Dmitri

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