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Riverbanks Conservation OutpostCrocodile Monitor

Scientific Name: Varanus salvadorii


Elongated toes, strongly curved sharp claws, rubbery pads on the bottom of their feet, and an extremely long tail are all adaptations that help this tropical lizard survive a life in the trees. Because the tail of the crocodile monitor is so long, up to two and a half times the length of the head and body, it may measure over 12 feet, making it the longest lizard in the world. It’s not the biggest lizard however; that title is reserved for the Komodo dragon, which may be shorter than the crocodile monitor, but is much heavier.

The crocodile monitor’s name reflects its predatory nature. Many types of monitors, even large species, feed largely on insects and other invertebrates. The crocodile monitor however, has a decided taste for vertebrate prey such as birds and arboreal mammals. Its long, curved teeth help it to hold on to its prey.


The crocodile monitor is only found in tropical forests of New Guinea.

Status in the Wild

The status of this species in the wild is largely unknown. It may not be able to survive in secondary forests and areas that have been logged. The crocodile monitor is killed for its skin and harvested as food by indigenous people.

Large species of monitors are some of the most difficult reptiles to breed in captivity. There have only been three instances of successful managed reproduction of crocodile monitors. Because conservationists are concerned that specialized, forest-dwelling Asian monitors might not be able to adapt to altered environments in the wild, zoos are trying to establish self-sustaining captive populations.