Scientific Classification13048201_591466741019293_1285669484761004276_o

ORDER: Squamata

FAMILY: Varanidae

GENUS: Varanus

SPECIES: Varanus salvator



The Malayan water monitor is extremely widespread throughout Asia with an endemic sub-species in Sri Lanka. Found in the vast majority of Asian countries in forests and semi-aquatic habitats such as mangrove swamps. They have also been said to thrive in urbanized areas such as cities/towns and canal systems, however here on the island they prefer dense forest with close by water sources.


The Malayan water monitor has an average length of 1.5 metres with elongated neck and snout. They also have large scales. Typically, their colour is blackish with yellow spots on their underbelly that tend to fade with age. Males are twice as big as females and juveniles are brighter in colour than their adult parents.


Malayan water monitors hunt during the day and are very agile swimmers (can be underwater for 30 minutes) and climbers. They hunt various prey such as; fish, frogs, rodents, birds and snakes through ‘open pursuit’, which is simply chasing without any stalking. When two males enter each others territories, they engage is what looks like a form of wrestling.


Mating season for the Malayan water monitor begins in April and can last until October, although most eggs are laid earlier. The number of eggs produced is dependent on the size of the female (although the average is between 15-30) and are laid in dead tree stumps or logs where warmth is retained to incubate the eggs. Some individuals of Malayan water monitor are recorded to live up to 10 years.


The Malayan water monitor is an extreme carnivore, meaning they will eat any species they think they can successfully hunt. Therefore they are ecologically important at controlling the populations of a high number of species as they are high in the food chain. If Malayan water monitors were removed from their ecosystem, interactions between other species would change and become damaged as excessive predation etc. would occur. Their presence attracts ecotourism to some areas however their main use by humans is through trade for their skin as leather products.


Loss of habitat, water pollution and poaching for trade products are the main negative f the impacts on the Malayan water monitor.


Malayan water monitors are the worlds second largest lizard species behind the komodo dragon!

** This data set was written by David Stanley of Bournemouth University, England and edited by Stephanie Young**

***Identification of these species has been made through, photographic documentation cross referenced with external specialists and identification books. Any errors in our database will be rectified upon notification, if you feel that we have misidentified any species please help us to improve our research through our contact us page. All people involved will be acknowledge in the website and reports***



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