The Bengal Monitor (Varanus benghalensis), also called Common Indian Monitor, occurs in Sri Lanka’s dry zone areas in the east and north of the island, whereas the even larger Water Monitor inhabits the wet zones in the south-west. The two species can not be mistaken, the Water Monitor is much darker, with yellow spots, whereas the Bengal Monitor is brownish grey. Young Bengal Monitors are slightly more colourful than adults. Both Sri Lankan monitor lizard species belong to the Genus Varanus of the Family Varinidae.
The Bengal Monitor species is widely distributed, from Iran to Java. The nominate subspecies, Varanus benghalensis benghalensis, is found west of Myanmar, while Varanus benghalensis nebulosus is found to the east. There is an ongoing debate whether the Bengal Monitors of Java, Sumatra and Malaysia form a distinct species or only a subspecies.
Male Bengal Monitors grow to 140 cm in Sri Lanka and up to 175 cm and more than 7 kg in Myanmar (Burma). They are remarkably smaller, not more than 120 cm, in the name-giving area of Bangladesh in between Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
Bengal Monitors can move rapidly and are able to climb, but usually only the young climb tress. Bengal Monitors can swim and stay submerged for more than 15 minutes. Adults hunt on the ground, feeding mainly on arthropods, they occasionally also take eggs and small vertebrates such as ground birds and fish. Bengal monitors have fat deposits for periods when prey are not easily available. Like other Varanids, Bengal Monitors have a forked tongue, they protrude it in the manner of snakes, monitor lizards (Varans) are closest relatives of snakes.
Usually, Bengal monitors live solitary. Like other Varanids, they sleep at night. Sri Lankan Bengal monitors are active throughout the year, whereas Bengal Monitors in a cooler climate reduce their metabolic activity during winter months. When digging nest holes, females often create false nests nearby.
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