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Animal of the Week: Asain water monitor

By Sara Umbrell, Layout Director

Kicking off November, this week’s Animal of the Week is a species you all might know as Mrs. Kipling from “Jessie” on Disney Channel — otherwise known as the Asian water monitor! These giant lizards are native to South and Southeast Asia, and are one of the most common monitors to inhabit the region. Typically, they will make their home in forested areas, wetlands and mangrove swamps. Juvenile monitors will spend a portion of their time in trees, while adults will spend all their time on the ground and water. Water monitors have become fairly adapted to human presence, and will often be found in places with high amounts of human populations.

They look similar to and are distantly related to a more familiar species by the name of Komodo dragon. The Asian water monitor is among one of the biggest lizard species in the world. They are semi-aquatic (spend parts of their life on water as well as on land), and use their long, powerful tails to propel themselves through the water. These monitors are typically dark brown in color, and juveniles have yellow dots scattered around their body, which disappear with age. Their head looks similar to other monitor species, elongated with sharp, serrated teeth and a black band that extends from their eyes.

Asian water monitors have a diet that is strictly carnivorous and consists of almost anything they find that is smaller than them. This tends to be fish, frogs, crabs, small snakes and mammals. There have even been accounts of them acting as scavengers, and will pick off carcasses left from other predators. Recent research has shown that these lizards do have small amounts of venom in their systems, but it isn’t that strong, and is mainly used for defensive purposes and helping digest their food. Luckily, these guys are very abundant in their natural habitat and are listed as least concern on the Endangered Species List.

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