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Varanus beccari Print E-mail
Black tree monitor, Beccari's monitor.

Extract from A Little Book of Monitor Lizards © D. Bennett 1995. Viper Press, UK

Varanus beccari Doria 1874

Beccari's monitor is usually considered a subspecies of Varanus prasinus. Sprackland (1990) considered it to be a separate species on the basis of its entirely black colouration and more keeled neck scales. It may also reach a larger size than the emerald monitor with a maximum size of 34cm SVL, 94.5cm TL. Beccari's monitor is apparently found only on the Aru Islands and nothing is known of its ecology. Like emerald monitors they are superbly adapted for an arboreal existence. They may inhabit mangroves swamps and crabs may form an important part of their diet (Pattullo, pers. comm.). In captivity they should be housed in the same manner as emerald monitors. Although the Aru Islands receive less rainfall than the rest of New Guinea the animals appreciate water as much as their green relatives. Like other members of the prasinus group, Beccari's monitors are sociable animals and can usually be housed in groups without incident. The presence of more than one male may increase the chances of initiating courtship. Unusual apparent appeasing behaviour, in which the weaker animal rubs his chin on the dominant animal's pelvis and tail has been observed in these animals (Branham & Wheeler, pers. comm.).
Image
Varanus becarri


Breeding has been reported on a few occasions (Branham, pers, comm., Wanner 1991, Eidenmuller & Wicker 1992; Biebl 1994b). Clutches of up to six eggs measuring 4.5 X 1.5cm are laid, which hatch after about 240 days at 27.7oC and 172-203 days at 27-30oC. Hatchlings often possess a bright pattern consisting of rows of green or yellow spots which completely disappear within twelve weeks. Unfortunately most hatchlings produced to date have died after a short time. They may be unable to tolerate humidity that is too low or too high and appear to be articularly susceptible to infections. Hatchlings should be handled as little as possible and housed separately. These bonnie wee beasties will feed on a variety of insects and occasional meals of small vertebrates.

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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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