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How long do Monitors live? Print E-mail
Captive Care of Monitors
Extract from A Little Book of Monitor Lizards © D. Bennett 1995. Viper Press, UK

There are very few records of the longevity of monitor lizards in captivity (Flower 1925, 1937, Snider & Bowler 1992, Bennett 1994) and virtually none of their lifespan in the wild. The record appears to be held by the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, where a Komodo dragon was kept for 24.5 years. The animal was adult when acquired, and a total lifespan of about 50 years has been predicted for this species (Auffenberg 1981). The Tel Aviv University Zoo maintained an adult desert monitor for 17 years, and estimated its age at death as at least 25 years. Other large monitors lizards are recorded as surviving for 20 years or more in captivity. Unfortunately there is much less information available on the lifespan of the dwarf monitor lizards. A female spotted tree goanna kept at the Basel Zoo in Switzerland was still laying eggs after 20 years in captivity (Bennett 1994b). Of course, the reported figures tend to be exceptions rather than the norm but they do indicate that a life expectancy of at least a decade is not unreasonable and that many specimens of both large and small species can live for at east twice as long. Monitor lizards therefore, although they do not attain the great ages recorded for crocodilians and chelonians, are amongst the most long lived of the squamates. Considering that most species can attain sexual maturity within three years it can be seen that the reproductive potential of these animals is enormous and that females of the more prolific species may be able to produce more than 500 eggs in a lifetime.

 

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The Butaan Project
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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