Nile Monitor or water leguaan lying on rock

Caption: Nile monitor or water leguaan sunning itself on river rocks, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi); Lens: Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 190mm; Shutter speed: 1/1600; Aperture: f/5.0; ISO: 400.

Additional Info: The Nile Monitor or Water Leguaan (Varanus niloticus) is Africa’s largest lizard, reaching lengths of up to 2m (6ft), although such sizes are more the exception than the rule.

These dragon-like reptiles are excellent swimmers, folding their legs in and using their tails like crocodiles, and can stay underwater for well over 30 minutes. Although their diet is varied, ranging from insects to small mammals, they also catch fish and are important predators of crocodile eggs.

They can’t be too stupid, as they’ve been seen using teamwork to get the eggs — one distracts the mother crocodile while others rush in to dig up the nest.

For more on these somewhat neglected reptiles, see safari guide Roddy Smith’s fascinating article, Monitor Lizards – Fearsome Predators on Land and Water.

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