The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Nile Monitor / Water Monitor

Afrikaans name: Waterlikkewaan

A Nile Monitor heading towards the camera - check out the claws and tongue

The Nile Monitor is often called a Leguaan in South Africa

Photo © Steven Herbert

Varanus niloticus

There are a number of different names for the Nile Monitor including Water Monitor, Water Leguaan and River Leguaan.

This is a large lizard that can grow to nearly 2 metres in length.

It is a member of the family of monitor lizards.

Nile Monitors have strong jaws. They are carnivorous and eat fish, insects, other aquatic animals and even small mammals. They are well-known for raiding Nile Crocodile nests and pinching the eggs or young. This is a risky job as the female Nile Crocodile keeps an eye on her nest and will defend it aggressively.

Over a short distance they can reportedly outrun a human! Their tail can be used as a powerful weapon.

The Nile Monitor is normally associated with water and can stay underwater for an hour.

Nile Monitor

Photo © Steven Herbert

Nile Monitors have a rather long forked tongue! They walk along flicking it out regularly to try and pick up the scent of food.

Nile Monitors tongue

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Eastern Cape Coast - Author: R. Lubke, F. Gess & M. Bruton - Published: 1988 - Page: 257

A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Graham Alexander and Johan Marais - Published: 2007 - Page: 212

African Wildlife - A photographic safari - Author: Nigel and Wendy Dennis - Published: 1999 - Page: 74

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 120

Bill Branchs Field Guide to the Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Bill Branch - Published: 1988 - Page: 173

Country Life - Issue 187 - Author: - Published: 2012 - Page: 78

Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind - Author: B. Hilton-Barber & Prof. L. R. Berger - Published: 2004 - Page: 176

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 66

Game Ranger in your Backpack - Author: Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick - Published: 2013 - Page: 196

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 407

Kruger National Park Questions and Answers - Author: P.F. Fourie - Published: 1987 - Page: 359

Questions and Answers - Snakes and Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Published: 1992 - Page: 21

Reptiles & Amphibians of Southern Africa - Author: Warren Schmidt - Published: 2006 - Page: 49

Reptiles of Southern Africa - Author: Rod Patterson and Anothony Bannister - Published: 1987 - Page: 58

Sasol First Field Guide to Snakes & other Reptiles of Southern Africa - 2nd edit - Author: Tracey Hawthorne - Published: 2016 - Page: 49

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 236

The Reptiles of the Kruger National Park - Author: U. de V. Pienaar, WD Haacke and NHG Jacobsen - Published: 1983 - Page: 111

Tracks and Tracking in Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Published: 2000 - Page: 23

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 66

Wild Issue 21 - Author: - Published: 2012 - Page: 75

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 250


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