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Monitor Lizards

Species Of Monitors

The Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus) is a widespread, rather aquatic species found in Africa. The Bengal monitor (V. bengalensis) is widely distributed in southern Asia, occurring from Iran and Afghanistan, to Java in Indonesia. This species is a relatively terrestrial monitor, and in some parts of its range it may become dormant during periods of extended drought. The two-banded monitor (V. salvator) is a large, highly aquatic species that can attain a length of almost 10 ft (3 m), and ranges from Bengal and Ceylon through southeast Asia. The giant monitor (V. giganteus) can reach a length of 7.9 ft (2.4 m), and is one of seventeen species of monitors that occur in Australia.

The most impressive species of monitor, and the largest living lizard, is the Komodo dragon (V. komodoensis) of Komodo Island and a few other tiny islands east of Java in Indonesia. This powerful predator is capable of killing large animals, such as pigs, goats, and deer. The Komodo dragon has also been known to rarely kill inattentive or unlucky humans. The Komodo dragon feeds on carrion when it is available. It is an endangered species, with a population of only a few thousand individuals. The Komodo dragon has been protected from hunting by the government of Indonesia. However, this animal is still significantly threatened by loss of its habitat, and by diminishment of its natural foods of deer and pigs by human hunters.

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