Monitors - Is the Croc Monitor the Largest Lizard?
By: Jason Abels – Assistant Director www.tigerhomes.org Animal Sanctuary
Monitor lizards are one of
the rarest of all the different Monitor
Lizards. Crocodile Monitors also have
the claim to fame of being the “Worlds
Largest Lizard”. Now I am sure
that 99% of you are thinking, “I always
thought that the Komodo Dragon was
the worlds largest lizard”. While, there
is no doubt that the Komodo Dragon is an extremely
big lizard, it is not the largest. In actuality,
the Komodo Dragon is the “Heaviest Lizard”.
To the best of my knowledge, the largest Komodo
Monitor was recorded at 10’2”,
and weighed 395 pounds. Definitely a big badass
lizard, but still not the biggest.
Crocodile Monitor lizards have been documented to reach a length of 15 feet,
with stories of 19 footers being told by tribesman
deep in the heart of the Papua New Guinea jungles.
These incredibly beautiful lizards are also known
to have the longest tail, longest claws, and longest
teeth of any living Monitor Lizard species. Maybe
they should be classified as the “Longest
Lizard”, while the Komodo Dragon classified
as the “Heaviest Lizard”?
Another really interesting
fact about a Crocodile Monitor’s teeth
is with the exception of the Tyrannosaurus
it is the only other reptile to have its top
and bottom teeth scissor across each other. This
drastically improves the animal’s ability
to tear and remove flesh from its prey. Not like
I think they even need that extra “Ripping & Tearing” feature!
Trust me, of all the animals to get bitten by;
you definitely do not want one of these guys
getting hold of any part of you. If they do,
I can guarantee that they will take it with them!
Every once in a while, one of the Sanctuary’s
group of five animals will get into a fight.
When this does occur, the wounds are absolutely
horrific to look at! Their teeth are so incredibly
sharp and long that they create 4 inch long,
deep gashes in each other. Now keep in mind the
fact that their skin is so tough, that in most
cases when we stitch them up, the suture needle
breaks or becomes so dull that it has to be replaced
after only 3 – 5 entries into the animals
skin. Hard to imagine how much damage they could
do to soft human flesh! That is why David and
I are always extremely careful when handling
these animals, especially EL DIABLO our 10-foot
and growing male.
Crocodile Monitors are also
extremely intelligent lizards. They remind me
allot of the Velociraptors from
Jurassic Park. They always, always, have their
eye on you. Even if you are 50 feet away in another
habitat, they always pay attention. We would
love to add WEB CAMS to their habitat down the
road. You guys would absolutely go nuts if you
saw their “Feeding Behavior”. I would
easily compare it to a shark “Feeding
The moment David or I walk out side with a bowl
of meet, the Croc Monitors immediately perk up
as their flickering tongues detect the smell
and taste of food in the air. El Diablo is definitely
a 10-foot lizard to keep your eye on at all times.
Damian, our other adult male is also a big lizard,
measuring out at just over 8 feet from nose to
tail. Speaking of the tail, the Crocodile Monitor’s
tail comprises about two thirds of the lizards
total length. This is one reason why the Croc
Monitor does not obtain the huge heavy mass and
weight of the Komodo Dragon. This tail is not
only extremely useful for balancing high up in
the tree tops were this monitor species calls
home; but is also a formidable weapon. When threatened,
the Crocodile Monitor lizard will whip its advisory
with its tail. They are known to aim specifically
for the eyes. This tail whip is so powerful that
if you are unfortunate to be hit by it, you will
be left with extreme welts and even skin lacerations.
In any case, we are very fortunate to work with
these incredible and rare animals. We hope to
one day have them up on Web Cams down the road.