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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

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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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The Butaan Project

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Since 1999 the Butaan Project has been studying the rare, endangered, and unique fruit-eating monitor lizards of the Philippines.  Butaan is just one of several races of frugivorous monitor lizards in the Philippines ("Pandan Biawak"), 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 (Butaan) was discovered in 1845 and not seen alive by a scientist until the late 1970s. The next species (Mabitang) was discovered in 2001. Other species remain undescribed, and some may have gone extinct without ever having been recognised.

 

 

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