Gray’s Monitor

The only Gray's Monitors in the UK live at Wingham Wildlife Park

Size

This species reaches an average length of around 180 cm, with weights of around 9 Kg reached by adults, making this one of the largest truly arboreal lizard species.

Habitat and Distribution
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This species comes from the Philippines where it is generally only known from 3 small islands (Luzon, Catanduanes and Pollilio). This is a truly arboreal lizard which lives only in forest areas, preferring those with thick coverage. In these areas it will spend much of its time in the trees, often resting or hiding in holes in the trees trunk. It is thought that they occupy an area of less than 2,000 km2 in the wild.

Age

It is thought that these animals may live for between 20 and 30 years, whilst other people claim that they can live anywhere up to 50 or 60 years in captivity. However the truth is that they are so seldom studied and kept in captivity that few people can be completely sure as to how long these animals may live.

Diet

The diet of this species is very unusual for a monitor lizard, in that the majority of its diet consists of fruits. However it will also eat a variety of insects and eggs which make up a tiny proportion of this animal which is generally thought of as frugivorous (feeding on fruit). Young animals will consume far more animal prey than the adults.

Groups and Breeding
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These are fairly solitary animals, living in fragmented areas of forest, and will generally only come in to contact with one another for the purpose of breeding. The female will lay an average of 4 to 11 eggs after mating (usually at the end of the monsoon season), which can take anywhere between 6 and 10 months to hatch, depending on environmental conditions.

Threats
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This animal faces massive threats in the wild and it is now considered to be certainly one of the 4 rarest monitor lizards in the world (even less common in the wild than the Komodo Dragon). It is under threat mainly through the destruction of its natural habitat to make way for human habitation and agriculture, but it is also hunted by locals for food.