Crocodile Monitors
Varanus salvadorii
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Husbandry- this is all about the basic care of crocodile monitors; covering their basic statistics, temperatures, humidity, food, and diseases.
Propagation - various methods of reproducing this species in outdoor and indoor eclosures. Construction of nest boxes to incubation are discussed. See crocodile monitor babies hatch!
Personality - learn about temperments, intelligence, and opinions of the crocodile monitor. Owners of this species also share some of their experiences. Some material here may be graphic in nature.
Enclosures - descriptions of enclosure design are explored as well as heating, misting, substrates, and furniture.
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An Email correspondence from Raymond Unsaid, a New Guinea resident, remarks on questions raised about the crocodile monitor.

What is the salvadorii's diet in the wild?
 
I have observed one digging and eating megapode (Megapodius spp.) eggs from itís mound at headwaters of the Aramia, near Awaba, some 20km from the nearest town, Balimo. Western Province. June 2004.
 
Within the same year hunters came across a wild juvenile pig being killed and intestines removed, believed to be by a salvadorii, I went to the site and observed trails of the lizard all around the location. Small cassowaries and birds are also preyed by the lizard.Rodents and wallabies make up the rest of its meal.

What is the maximum size they have reached?
 
 
According to literature I have viewed, the highest recorded length was 4.7 meters or 470cm Snout to tail, this record was taken by Professor Popel in 1987, he than placed it in PNG Museum, the last time I visited the museum in 2001, I couldnít see a Varanus of this length. Stories from hunters in Western province who live a predominantly hunting and gathering lifestyle to date, have described much longer sightings while out hunting. A very gifted hunter named, Laule Daiki, who I have come to know very well and have lived with him in the village for 4 years in my trips to the forest area did several sightings and killed some which he normally brings for the family dinner. Most villagers in Western, Gulf, the Sepiks and Indonesia part of New Guinea have made kundu drums with itís skin. From collections of skin in the villages, size and length can be determined.....probably.

What is the actual geographical distribution on new Guinea and the surrounding islands?
 
I have seen drums made of skin hunted in East and West Sepik, Gulf, all of Western Province and Central. In literature, it is confirmed to be in all these areas as well as Cape Vogel peninsular.

Are there any different variations on the island from place to place, or is the size and colour uniform?
From my observation the reptiles that occur along the mangrove look slightly different in colour than the ones in mid montane rainforests (not to be confused with the mangrove monitor, V.indicus).

Is there a difference between the behaviour of the young and adults?
 
I am yet to meet a young in the wild so I cannot give you a precise difference here. What I know however is that, it is a good swimmer and climber, there could be variations in the way they feed, climb and swim/dive between young and adult salvadorii.

How aquatic/terrestrial/arboreal are they?
 
They are good swimmers, it lives almost away from any contact, most hunters meet it while pursuing deer ,pig or wallaby along the same trail. Most of its trails can be seen around megapode nests (Megapodius spp). I have sighted trails along two nests while in the jungles with Laule Daiki the hunter. A good time to video tape it will be during nesting season of megapode birds. They spend most of their time on land/trees and say 30% around water.

What are the extremes of temperature they actually experience in nature, e.g. How much cold can they handle?
 
Can only handle New Guinea lowland temperatures I believe.

Are they solitary or do they pair bond?

Havenít seen a pair in the wild, I presume they probably move in pairs as hunting and feeding requires a lot of work and feed in the wild is rare. However most hunters I confer with tell me they have sighted individuals only.

When and where do they lay and how many eggs?  How long for hatching?
 
I havenít seen a nests so I cant give you much info on this. According to Litereture Iív scrambled across they lay about 5 to 7 eggs percluts and there could be 2 or 3 clutches per year.

What is their relationship to the other animals in the forest and the indigenous people?

To other animals, they are mostly feared. They are very good runners and can hunt prey effectively. All hunters and village people tell me that when an animal is killed by a salvadorii, it uses its sharp claws to reap open the ribs of larger animals and remove only the internal organs to eat. On several occasions villagers stumble across dead pigs and deer with open guts unexplained, thus they believe a salvadorii had just killed and ate internal organs.
Most locals cannot tell the difference between each Varanus species, all they see is a giant lizard which at times they have one name for all species of Varanus, for instance the Gogodala tribe call it ďPasiyaĒ
 
Generally people fear salvadorii more than any animal in the jungle as such hunters (Daiki,pers comm.) do not go beyond a certain limit when out hunting. People eat the meat, eggs, use the skin for ceremonial kundu drums,apart from this it is revered as a sacred ancestral reptile depending on each tribe.


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