One of 60 species of monitor lizard found around the world, the white-throated monitor is characteristically long bodied, with strong limbs, robust claws and a powerful muscular tail. The tail is usually as long again as the head body length and serves as a prehensile organ, a rudder for steering and balance and as a weapon.
Found throughout Central and Southern Africa this lizard is mainly terrestrial and diurnal (day active) in habit but will climb trees in order to hunt and to avoid predators. The white-throated monitor is carnivorous and feeds on a range of prey including snakes, birds, eggs, and invertebrates with occasional small mammals. It feeds voraciously during the wet season when food is plentiful but will fast and lose 4% of its body weight per month during the dry season.
The monitor does not chew but swallows small food items whole, using its claws to tear large items into smaller pieces.
Females produce one clutch of up to 50 eggs per year laid in a nest in an abandoned burrow then covered and left to hatch. The hatchlings emerge during the wet season and will double in mass and body lengths over the next three months. They become mature at 3-5 years.
The white-throated monitor spends its day patrolling the savanna, seeking out small animals with its scent-detecting tongue. During the hottest part of the day, it shades itself under tree roots or uses its strong claws to dig out a resting den. If threatened, the monitor puffs up its body and lashes with its powerful tail.
Sources : www.dudleyzoo.org.uk / http://cincinnatizoo.org /