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Blue-tailed monitor

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

Varanus doreanus doreanus Meyer 1874

Varanus doreanus finschi Bohme, Horn & Zeigler 1994

Image
Varanus doreanus
The rediscovery of the blue-tailed monitor is the latest in an exciting series of discoveries by Wolfgang Bohme and Georg Horn. Described and forgotten, the holotype had been destroyed by a wartime bomb, but the precise description given by Meyer allowed the recent workers to identify it as identical to their new-found species (Bohme et al 1994). The blue-tailed monitor appears to be closely related to the mangrove monitor, V.indicus, and can be distinguished from this and other, similar, species by the smaller, more numerous, scales over the back, a brightly marbled underside, white tongue and a striped tail. Specimens are known from all over New Guinea and the islands of New Britain and Biak. The blue-tailed monitor appears to be restricted to intact forests and has been seen foraging on the ground. When threatened they do not take to water, as is almost invariably the case with the mangrove monitor. They can be tempted out of hiding with carrion or turtle eggs. V.doreanus finschi from the island of New Britain has a marked, rather than white, throat.

Blue-tailed monitors are exported to Europe and North America, usually under the name Kalabeck's monitor. In captivity they require a spacious enclosure that allows them to climb and a warm, humid climate.

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William Oliver

William Oliver. Champion of biodiversity and its students. So many of us benefited from his advice and expertise. What a character. RIP.

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The Butaan Project
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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