Black Tree Monitor

Black Tree Monitor

Animal Profile

Scientific name Varanus beccarii
Class Reptile
Length 36 inches (91 cm)
Life span 15 years
Incubation around 164 days
Number of eggs 7-35
Size at birth .28 – .35 ounces (8-10 g)
Age of maturity around 2 years
Conservation status Threatened

Island dweller
Black tree monitors live in the forests, swamps, and mangroves of the Aru Islands off the coast of New Guinea.

A lizard lunch
These lizards eat snails, grasshoppers, beetles, scorpions, bird eggs, fish, other lizards, snakes, birds, and shrews. Keepers feed mice and crickets to the zoo’s black tree monitor.

Made for climbing
The black tree monitor is highly adapted to spending its time in trees. It has long, curved claws, a streamlined body, and a long prehensile tail which makes up nearly two-thirds of its body length. The soles of the feet also possess enlarged scales that may aid the lizard when climbing. Their strong jaws and long teeth help them hold on to prey. Its black coloration allows it to blend in with its surroundings and warm up quickly, reducing the amount of time spent basking. Young monitors are actually lighter shades of green.

A precious part
Since their tails are so important in climbing trees, black tree monitors prefer to protect their tails, rather than use them as weapons.

A hissing hunter
Black tree monitors spend most of their days in the treetops or swamps, looking for food. When threatened, they inflate their neck and hiss at the predator. The ribs may spread out, helping to make the lizard appear larger to its enemy. Black tree monitors are quick and agile and can climb trees easily to escape predators. Powerful legs allow monitors to run quickly.

Powerful senses
Monitors have excellent eyesight to detect prey and avoid predators. They can sense movement as far as 275 yards away. Similar to snakes, monitors use their tongues to “taste” the air around them, similar to our sense of smell. This special sense allows them to find food, a mate, or an enemy.