Herpetology of Ethiopia and Eritrea


Our records => Varanidae, Merrem 1820


Varanus niloticus LINNAEUS 1758


Short description:
Africa's largest lizard. The body laterally compressed, with a distinct dorsal crest. Nostril rounded, closer to snout tip than to eye; ear oval, tympanum moderately exposed. Dorsals granular, 136-183 around mid-body, each scale surrounded by rings of small granules; ventrals squarish, arranged in transverse rows. Iris brown. Dorsum dark olive-gray or blackish; back with an average of 7 (6-11) narrow light yellowish transverse bands on the back, and 13 (10-18) bands on the tail. Venter yellowish with gray markings. Pattern becomes obscure in old animals, while juveniles are black with yellow bands. Maximal length about 250 cm. The tongue long, forked. The jaws are toothed by large conical teeth.

Distribution:
Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Malawi, Tanzania, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea. In Ethiopia relatively abundant around lakes and rivers from south to north. In the rainy season it can be normally seen in flooded ditches along roads.

Behavior:
Its inhabit a wide variety of habitats including woodland, dry savanna, scrub, evergreen thickets, swamps, and mangroves. Nile monitors are usually found near water, either temporary or permanent, but especially rivers, lakes, and pans. Their lifestyle is both terrestrial and aquatic and they are both superb climbers and swimmers which allows for great adaptability to different environments. Exposed, open areas are crucial habitat components as they require sufficient basking locations. This species is known to bask on open rooftops and streets. Young Nile monitors often lie on branches overhanging rivers or pools, and if disturbed will drop into the water. When alarmed and when water is not available, Nile monitors use their sharp claws and strong legs to climb trees up to a height of 5 to 6 meters. They are also known to flee down a hole or rocky crevice, or into a termite nest. Nile monitors live in burrows which they will excavate themselves or expand an existing one. A softer, sandy substrate is necessary to construct these burrows. This species has been documented at elevations from 0 to 1,600 m above sea level, in Ethiopia 1800 m (Tana lake). The females lays large numbers of oval eggs in size 40x50 mm, incubation period 5-6 month.

Description original:
Linnaeus, C.: Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii, Holmiæ. 10th Edition: 824 pp.

Our records:
Bahir Dar (Trailin); Hammusit (Trailin); Turmi (Trailin); Metemma (Trailin); Gambella (Trailin); Langano (Trailin, Lizler); Lake Chammo (Trailin); Didessa river (Trailin);

Common english name: Nile Monitor

Varanus niloticus - habitat, Awash falls, Shewa keflehager, C Ethiopia


Varanus albigularis DAUDIN 1802

Varanus albigularis - Tanzania
Varanus albigularis - Tanzania

Short description:
The body pattern of the Varanus albigularis comprises dark rosettes with a cream coloured centre that gradually merge with age to give the impression of bands around the ribcage. While the head is solid grey or brown above, the throat is much lighter, hence this species. The snout of this monitor lizard is also distinctively blunt and bulbous, particularly in adults. The tongue long and forked in blue color. The eyes rather small, pupil rounded. The limbs strong. The tail long. Midbody scale rows = 132 - 150. Maximum total length of about 160 cm.

Distribution:
Namibia, Botswana, Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania,S Ethiopia, S Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) In Ethiopia, southern and eastern part.

Behavior:
It is found in a variety of dry habitats, including steppes, prairies, and savannahs, but is absent from desert interiors, rainforests, and thick scrub forests. The home ranges of males average 18.3 square kilometers, whereas the home ranges of females average 6.1 square kilometers. In southern Ethiopia, I saw them often near the locals families homesteads. It hunts for a wide range of prey and will eat just about anything it can subdue, from snakes, birds and eggs, to snails, millipedes and grasshoppers. The females lays about 50 eggs in size 40 x 60 mm into termite hills or into deep burows. The incubation period 4-5 month.

Note:
In Ethiopia ssp. Varanus albigularis microstictus BOETTGER 1893.

Description original:
Daudin, F. M.: Histoire Naturelle, génerale et particulièredes reptiles, ouvrage faisant suite, a l'histoiure naturelle, générale et particulière composée par LECLERC DE BUFFON, et redigée par C. S. SONNINI, vol. 3. F. Dufart, Paris.

Our records:
Luqa, Omo, Ethiopia (Trailin)

Common english name: White-throated Monitor

Varanus albigularis - habitat, Chew Bahr, south Omo, Gamo Gofa keflehager, S Ethiopia


Varanus exanthematicus BOSC 1792

Varanus exanthematicus
Varanus exanthematicus

Short description:
A medium sized varanid, similar to the previous species. The average total length is between 85 and 100 cm, it can reach up to 130 cm with a head-body length of approx. 55cm. The head short, the snout is also distinctively blunt and bulbous. The eyes big, iris orange, pupil rounded. Large earholes. The tongue long and forked, pinkish or gray with darker tip. The body elongated, limbs strong and digits with sharp claws. The basic colour is grey to a light yellow. The head has often light yellow markings. There are symmetrical rows of circular, dark edged yellow spots across the animal's back. The tail has alternating brown and yellowish rings. The belly and the inside of the limbs is yellowish-grey or gray to brown in color. Midbody scale rows = 75-100. Two preanal pores.

Distribution:
Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; South Sudan; Togo; Uganda In Ethiopia, the western region (Gambella, Asosa, north to the Eritrea). In Ethiopia is rarer than V.albigularis.
Eritrea - Anseba BMNH 69.11.4.1
Ethiopia - Blue Nile River Valley

Behavior:
It inhabits semiarid areas, dry savannas and semi-deserts, but also agriculture and rural areas. Its occurrence ending in the south atforests zone. Diurnal. This lizard can be found in burrows but also in trees, since it isa good climber. They are able to dig the burrows themselves but they also claim abandoned burrows that have originally been dug by mammals. The female lays from 10 to over 50 eggs. Males are very territorial and will defend their territory very aggressively. Adult monitors eat a variety of food items, like arthropods (in particular beetles, centipedes, millibedes, scorpions), ground-dwelling birds, small mammaly, reptiles, toads, eggs and carrion, small mammals, birds, snakes, toads, lizards, and eggs.

Original description:
Bosc, L. 1792. Lacerta exanthematica. Act. Soc. Hist. Nat. (Paris) 1: 25

Common english name: Savannah Monitor



Varanus griseus (DAUDIN, 1803)

Varanus griseus - Tunisia
Varanus griseus - Tunisia

Short description:
Large slender lizard. The neck very long. The head narow and pointed, narrower than in other species of African varanids. The tail very long and whiped. The eyes big, pupil rounded, iris yellow or goldish. Nostril an oblique slit, closer to eye than to snout tip, ear elongate slit, tympanum only slightly exposed. Dorsals granular, 134-169 around mid-body. The maximum total length of 120 cm, an average of about 100 cm, weight approx. 1000 g. The ventral scales square, quadrilateral, in 120-125 series. Dorsum sandy gray, two dark streaks extend from behind and below the eye onto the sides of the neck; back with 5-8 (usually 6) narrow brownish transverse bands,19-28 bands on the tail, tail tip often reddish. Venter sandy white. Pattern becomes obscure in old animals, but.colors much brighter in juveniles. Easily determinable species, unmistakable with other species of African monitors.

Distribution:
The Saharo-Arabian region. Saharan North Africa south to the Sahel and Arabia. The area of his distribution extends from Western Sahara across North Africa to Egypt and Sudan, further east to southeastern Turkey, Syria, Israel and Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula and Central Asia (Iran, Irak, Afghanistan, north India and some former Central Asian republics of the USSR). In Ethiopia and Eritrea are not documented, but its occurrence in northern Eritrea is very likely. The localities on the Red Sea coast in Sudan (Suakin) are very close from the Eritrean border.

Behavior:
Diurnal, solitary living lizard. Inhabits a wide variety of habitats and terrain, although predominantly desert-dwelling, the desert monitor occupies a variety of arid and semi-arid habitats including clay steppe, savanna and riverbeds up to elevations of 1,300 metres. Varanus griseus is an opportunistic predator, and employs an impressive range of skills in the pursuit of food, including tree-climbing, swimming and digging. Its diet includes small mammals, birds, eggs and insects, and it will even tackle challenging prey such as hedgehogs, tortoises and venomous snakes. Oviparous.

Our records:
Dongola, N Sudan (Trailin)

Description:
Daudin, F. M. Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière des Reptiles, Vol. 8. F. Dufart, Paris

Common english name: Desert Monitor

Varanus griseus - habitat, Mussawarat, North Sudan





















































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