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The savanna monitor (Varanus exanthematicus) is a species of monitor lizard native to Africa. The species is known as Bosc's monitor in Europe, since French scientist Louis Bosc first described the species.
It belongs to the subgenus Polydaedalus, along with the Nile, the ornate and other monitors.Etymology
The generic name Varanus is derived from the Arabic waral (ورل), which translates as "monitor" in English. The specific name exanthematicus is derived from two Greek words: exanthema meaning "eruption" and mata meaning "idle". French botanist and Zoologist Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc originally described this lizard as Lacerta exanthematicus in reference to the large oval scales on the back of the neck.Description
The Bosc's or Savanna monitor is very stoutly built (more so than most monitor species). Strong limbs with sharp talon like claws for digging and climbing, very powerful jaws that can easily crush bone of its prey, and a powerful, if short, tail. Maximum size is rarely more than 3.5 feet in length. The vast majority are usually 2.5 to 3 feet. The pattern on the back of is uniformely grey to pale yellow with cream, dove white or light blue spots. The monitor has a short, box-like head and large dorsal and nuchal scales. Its short tail is round, and stores fat as an energy reserve.Defense
The savanna monitor prefers to flee or play dead when in danger, but if cornered, defends itself with tail lashes and if need be, a powerful, vicelike bite. Its thick hide makes it resistant to most animal bites, and herpetologist Robert Sprackland claims the lizard is immune to most snake venom.
When confronted by a large predator, the monitor rolls onto its back and grasps a hind leg in its mouth, forming a ring with its body and making itself harder for the animal to swallow whole while playing dead. Savanna monitors, like most monitors, will expand their throat and body to present a larger profile as well. They also will gape and let out a slow, deep hissing sound when threatened.Diet
Varanus exanthematicus (savannah or Bosc's monitor) is a carnivore / insectivore. Although it will consume mammals, it is generally not recommended for them to be fed a strictly mammalian diet in captivity. Mammals are high in fat and may cause health issues. A generalist in the wild, V. exanthematicus will eat insects, scorpions, spiders, small mammals, eggs, birds, smaller lizards, snakes and dead animal remains. The feeding behavior of this and most monitor species is very aggressive to frenzied.Range
Its range extends throughout sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Eritrea and northern Zaire.V. exanthematicus is primarily a ground-dwelling species that shelters in burrows, although they are sometimes found in bushes or low trees. In the coastal plain of Ghana, V. exanthematicus juveniles are often associated with the burrows of the giant cricket Brachytrupes.Threats
The species is hunted for its leather and meat. The skins of the species are important in the international leather trade, and originate mainly from Chad, Mali and Sudan. In 1984, the skins of over 1,000,000 dead savanna monitors were exported for the leather trade as opposed to a mere 900 live specimens for the pet trade.Credits:[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]