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Monitor Lizards


Little Book of Monitor Lizards (1995) PDF Version Print E-mail
LBML-yellow.jpgFirst published in 1995 by Viper Press (the publishing arm of Mampam Conservation), Daniel Bennett's "Little Book of Monitor Lizards" survived subsequent editions in German and an edited English edition, all now out of print. A pdf version of the first edition is now available for only $5, the funds will be used directly for monitor lizard research. 220 pages, first published in November 1995, ISBN-10: 095266321X, ISBN-13: 978-0952663218

Monitor lizards are extremely exciting animals. Without doubt they look more like dinosaurs than any other living creatures. They are aggressive, carnivorous, intelligent reptiles and although some are true giants, others will fit easiJy into a matchbox. Large monitor lizards are found over almost a third of the Earth and so it seemed incredible to me that I could find so little written about them. With a lot of help from library staff I read as much literature as I could find about the monitor lizards. I tracked down the authors of much of the work and besieged them with questions. Then I visited and interrogated reptile breeders. Despite the naivete of many of my questions my requests were treated with great courtesy. The more I learned about monitor lizards however, the more I knew I didn't know. Some of the most important aspects of monitor lizard biology are still virtually unknown. Indeed , our knowledge of even the larger monitor is so incomplete that new species are still being discovered with regularity and virtually nothing is known about some of the commonestmembers of the family.

This little book, therefore, is intended to be an introduction and guide to the wondrous variety of monitor lizards with emphasis on their ecology and care in captivity. The information has been provided by people who have worked and lived with monitor lizards. in the wild or in captivity. Much of it has been published before, but it is scattered widely through the literature and disguised in about half a dozen languages. With the exception of some minor articles of my own, to which I have given undue prominence, I have tried to omit any speculative material and have been obliged to ignore a lot of good information when the identification of the animal under discussion is in doubt. With the exception of proper names. I have tried to keep scientific terminology out of this book altogether and a glossary and conversion tables can be found at the back. In the last five years there has been an explosion of interest in the monitor lizards and this is reflected in the huge amounts of new literature, much of which is not covered in this volume. This little book of monitor lizards is designed to be a summary of our knowledge of these magnificent animals, both in the wild and in captivity, but it is by no means complete, nor does it claim, in any way, to be an authoritative work. It is to be hoped that in the near future some of the people who have had most success and experience with keeping monitor lizards will publish much more competent and thorough guides to their care in captivity. making mine memorable only for its modest price and more outrageous mistakes.



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Varanus bitatawa

Varanus bitatawa is the third species of  monitor lizard to be recognised by science that belongs to the "Pandan Biawak" group,  all of which are of at least as great a conservation concern as the Komodo dragon, but receive virtually none of the attention. Pandan Biawak occur only in lowland dipterocarp forest. The first species (Varanus olivaceus or Butaan) was discovered in 1845 and not seen alive by a scientist until the late 1970s. The next species (Varanus mabitang or Mabitang) was discovered in 2001 and in 2010 Varanus bitatawa (Butikaw or Bitatawa) was described. Other species of frugivorous monitor lizards may remain undescribed, but many may have  gone extinct without ever having been recognised.




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