I found this rather large Water monitor on a walk the other day. It was close to Long Lee Manor near the Bushmans river. It was at the base of the bush foraging for rodents. With summer fast approaching and lovely first rains, I have seen quite a bit of recent activity from some of our smaller shyer members of Shamwari.


This rather large species of water monitor (Varanus niloticus) is also known as a leguaan in South Africa. It is the largest species of lizard in Africa growing to 2m in length. It is quite similar to the rock monitor but can be distinguished from the latter by its more pointed snout which is very “swollen and bulbous” in the rock monitor and long flattened tail which assists in swimming, is shorter in the rock monitor. The coloring of the water monitor is also more brightly coloured in black and yellow.

The water monitor spends most of its time in or near to water where it is perfectly at home swimming and even completely submerging itself and swimming underwater for long distances. It feeds off of bird’s eggs, fledglings, frogs, crabs, smaller reptiles, insects, and mammals. They will even dig up tortoise and crocodile nests to get to the eggs. Roughly 20 to 30 eggs are laid in an old termite mound or protected hole where they hatch about 120 to 180 days later.

Find out more about the common water monitor here.

See you at Shamwari Game Reserve.

Andrew Kearney
Head Ranger