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Oct 12 2011
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Monitor Lizards: Defense, Movement and Shelter

Filed under: Species » Monitor, Saurians,

How do monitor lizards defend themselves?

Monitors are well adapted to their environment and well camouflaged, which helps them avoid potential predators. Snakes are considered to be the monitor lizard’s most feared predator. Young monitor lizards are able to rely on color and behavior for defense - they are more spread out than adults, and they are able to take cover more quickly and effectively. 

Larger lizards defend themselves in different ways than smaller lizards

Larger lizard species, with fewer predators on their tail, will simply lie out in the open and cease to move when they spot a predator. However, if the predator comes close, they'll take off in the opposite direction of the predator's advance. An adult monitor lizard can go faster than the average human and most other lizards. Once they can, they will hide in burrows, trees, or even under water.

Monitor lizards - defensive mechanisms

When confronted monitor lizards try to puff themselves up as much as possible, making themselves appear larger and more threatening. They stand upright on all legs, puffing up their lungs, flattening their back, making a hissing sound, and some will also sway from side to side. As a final protective measure they open their mouths as far they can.

But will a monitor lizard actually attack if confronted? Yes! If approached, the monitor may lunge and attack, biting their attacker and holding their bite (not letting go), similar in fashion to a bulldog.

Why do monitor lizards move?

Monitors move for various reasons. One is to search for food. The second is to find shelter from the heat or to sleep, and fin basking spots. The third is to run from predators. And the final is to search for mates. Males are most active during mating season, however their movement may be limited by temperature changes and the need to conserve water.

How far can monitor lizards move?

The daily distance traveled by a monitor lizard varies based on the season, their habitat, and the size of the lizard. Males tend to be more active than females, primarily because they eat more food (and thus have more energy), and they grow faster as well.  Some monitor species will spend most of the their time in one location, while others will constantly be in motion.

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