Uganda is not only a home to the primates such as Mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, big five animals (lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos), antelopes (topis, waterbucks, Oribis, bushbucks, elands, impalas and Uganda Kobs among others) and many other mammal species but is also a home to beautiful reptile species including the Nile Lizards.
These reptiles are native to Africa and are distributed throughout the whole of Southern and Central regions of the Continent including Sudan and the parts of Central Egypt along River Nile. You will not see them within any desert regions of Africa much as they live around Rivers. Interestingly, Nile Monitor lizards can stay underwater for more than one hour.
In Uganda, these reptiles are found in many places ranging from within the Source of the Nile to the Murchison Falls National Park. Other places to sight them include Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo and Kibale Forest National Parks (are generally found in most Parks with the exception of Kidepo Valley National Parks). The ones in Uganda are Africa’s largest lizards and surprisingly one of Africa’s most insatiable predators consuming insects, crocodile eggs, fish as well as other aquatic species such as snails, birds, frogs, small snakes and surprisingly some small mammals.
Monitor Lizards are large and can grow up to more than 2 meters (7-8 feet) long but when you encounter them at a distance, you will actually think you have seen a small or young Crocodile. They have stout bodies and generally strong/powerful with elongated heads like snakes, have extremely sharp claws with long and compressed tails that they always use when frightened.
Females lay eggs within an active termite mound where the heat from the termites helps in incubation of their eggs. Their lifespan is 20 years in the wild and still unknown for captivity because few or none live in captivity.
They were listed as threatened species on International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) red List. Nile monitors are characterized by muscular bodies, strong legs and jaws with sharp teeth that and sharp and pointed in the juveniles but eventually become blunt and peg-like in adults. Their claws are mainly used for defense, climbing, digging and tearing their prey.
These reptiles are good climbers and you will interestingly find them in trees. Another common feature they posses is the sharp and pointed claws that enable them to climb, defend and dig effectively on top of hunting and tearing their prey.
When it comes to weight, the adults range from 0.8 to 1.7 kilograms (1.8 to 3.7 pounds) although there are others that have been recorded to weigh from 5.9 to 15 kilograms (13 to 33 pounds) for big monitors. However, weight varies according to age or environmental conditions.
Interestingly, these reptiles have stunning but variable skin patterns-grayish-brown above with greenish-yellow barring on their tails and also have large greenish-yellow rosette-like spots on their backs with blackish small spots in the middle. They can run faster than most people over short distances.
The Nile Monitors are one of the interesting reptile species you will see when you visit Uganda and are found within Murchison Falls National Park, the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo and Kibale Forest National Parks (are generally found in most Parks with the exception of Kidepo Valley National Parks).