Donate Take Action

Join us


Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Water Monitor Varanus salvator

An opportunistic predator with a wide-ranging diet, this is one of the largest lizards that regularly ventures into salt water. It has a long neck, strong legs, and a flattened tail, which lashes from side to side when it swims. It feeds on anything it can overpower, diving to catch prey in the shallows or running it down onshore. Like other monitors, it also feeds on carrion. In some places, it can often be seen on the outskirts of coastal villages, where it scavenges on discarded remains. Water monitors breed by laying eggs, which the female places at the end of a burrow.

Water Monitorzoom image
  • Order Squamata
  • Length Up to 9 ft (2.7 m)
  • Weight 35–75 lb (15–35 kg)
  • Habitat Low-lying coasts, estuaries, rivers
  • Distribution Indian Ocean, western Pacific, from Sri Lanka to the Philippines and Indonesia
Water Monitor habitat mapzoom image