Monitor Lizards, more commonly known in South Africa by their Afrikaans name Likkewaan. There are two species of Monitor Lizard found in South Africa, the Rock Monitor and the Water Monitor, the Water Monitor is the biggest lizard in Africa and can grow up to 1.5 meters in length. Monitors are ferocious predators and will catch and eat just about anything, other reptiles, insects, small mammals, birds and eggs.

Monitor Lizard

Water Monitors also hunt in the water, they are excellent swimmers and have been known to stay submerged for up to 20 minutes, they eat fish and will also raid crocodile nests to get their eggs. They have a forked tongue and a sensory organ (Jacobson’s Organ) on the roof their mouth, they use their tongue to collect scent particles from the air which are passed to their sensory organ. This enables the Monitor to gauge what direction the scent is coming from and track down its prey. Water Monitors will rather escape into the water than stand their ground, Rock Monitors are more aggressive and if necessary will bite and lash out with their claws.

Female monitors lay up to 40 eggs, Rock Monitors will create an underground burrow for their eggs, Water Monitors will often break open a termite mound and lay their eggs inside the termite mound. The termites repair the damage done by the monitor and this helps to keep the eggs in a safe place until they hatch, laying eggs in the termite mound also provides immediate food for the baby monitors when they hatch.