Even if they look like dangerous, primeval reptiles: spiny-tailed monitor lizards are considered peaceful and are among the monitor lizards most commonly kept in our country.
What does the spiny-tailed monitor lizard look like?
The spiny-tailed monitor belongs to the Odatria subgenus of the monitor lizard family. It is a medium-sized monitor lizard and is about 60 to 80 centimeters long including the tail. It is particularly striking because of its decorative coloring and its pattern: The back is covered with a dark brown mesh pattern with yellow spots.
The head is brown in color and also has yellow spots of different sizes, which merge into yellow stripes towards the neck. The spiny-tailed monitor lizard is colored beige to white on the belly. The tail is ringed brown-yellow, round, and only slightly flattened at the sides. It is about 35 to 55 centimeters long – and is therefore significantly longer than the head and body. There are spike-like appendages on the tail. Hence the German name of the animals. The males differ from the females in having two spiked scales at the base of the tail.
Where do spiny-tailed monitor lizards live?
Spiny-tailed monitors are only found in northern, western, and central Australia and on a few islands off Australia’s north coast. Spiny-tailed monitors are mainly found on the ground in rocky areas and in semi-deserts. There they find shelter in the crevices between the rocks or under stone slabs and in caves.
What types of spiny-tailed monitors are there?
There are three subspecies of the spiny-tailed monitor. In addition, it has numerous relatives such as the emerald monitor lizard, the rust-headed monitor lizard, the tail monitor lizard, the sorrow monitor lizard, the short-tailed monitor lizard, and the dwarf monitor lizard. They are all found in Australia, New Guinea, and some islands between these two countries.
How old do spiny-tailed monitor lizards get?
When kept in captivity, spiny-tailed monitor lizards can live to be ten years or more.
How do spiny-tailed monitors live?
Spiny-tailed monitor lizards spend the day foraging for food. In between, they take extensive sunbaths on the rocks. At night they sleep sheltered in crevices or caves. It is not exactly known whether the animals live together in colonies or alone in nature.
Spiny-tailed monitors go dormant once a year during the Australian winter. It lasts about one to two months. While animals originating from Australia usually keep their usual resting time with us, animals bred by us usually get used to our seasons. During the rest period, the temperature in the terrarium should be around 14°C. At the end of the rest period, the lighting time and temperature in the enclosure are increased and the animals begin to eat again.
Like all reptiles, spiny-tailed monitor lizards shed their skin periodically as they grow. In a cave padded with moist moss, the animals can skin themselves better due to the higher humidity. The cave also serves as a hiding place for the animals.
Friends and foes of the spiny-tailed monitor lizard
When spiny-tailed monitors feel threatened by enemies such as birds of prey, they hide in crevices. There they wedge themselves with their long tails and seal the entrance to the hiding place. So they cannot be pulled out by enemies.
How do spiny-tailed monitor lizards reproduce?
When spiny-tailed monitors are in a mating mood, the male pursues the female and constantly tongues his tongue. When mating, the male can be quite rough with the female and sometimes even injure her. Four weeks after mating, the female is getting fatter. Eventually, it lays between five and 12 eggs, sometimes as many as 18. They are about an inch long. If the animals are bred, the eggs are hatched at 27° to 30° C.
The young hatch after about 120 days. They are just six centimeters long and weigh three and a half grams. They become sexually mature at about 15 months. In the terrarium, a female spiny-tailed monitor can lay eggs two to three times a year.
What do spiny-tailed monitor lizards eat?
Spiny-tailed monitors mainly eat insects such as grasshoppers and beetles. However, they sometimes prey on other small reptiles such as lizards and even small birds. Young spiny-tailed monitor lizards are fed with crickets and cockroaches in the terrarium.
A special vitamin powder ensures that they are adequately supplied with vitamins and minerals. The animals always need a bowl of freshwater to drink.
Keeping of spiny-tailed monitor lizards
Spiny-tailed monitor lizards are among the most frequently kept monitor lizards because they are usually very peaceful. Often a male and a female are kept. But sometimes a male with several females together. Then, however, it can come to quarrels between the females during the mating season. Males should never be kept together – they don’t get along.
How do you care for spiny-tailed monitor lizards?
Because spiny-tailed monitors grow relatively large and should be kept in pairs, they need a fairly large terrarium. The floor is sprinkled with sand and decorated with rocks between which the animals can climb around. This is how they feel safe because they are well camouflaged.
If you place wooden boxes with moist sand in the terrarium, the monitor lizards like to hide in them. They also lay their eggs there. Because spiny-tailed monitors come from very warm regions, the terrarium must be heated to over 30 °C. At night the temperature should be at least 22 °C. Since the animals need light for ten to twelve hours a day, you also have to install a lamp.