Argus Monitor

Argus Monitor

[ Varanus panoptes ]

Quick Facts

BODY LENGTH: 4 to 5 feet
WILD DIET: fish, crabs, small birds, small mammals, insects, and even other monitors
ZOO DIET:
small mice, hardboiled eggs, Natural Balance Carnivore Diet, and adult crickets.
DISTRIBUTION: southern New Guinea
HABITAT: grasslands

 

Balancing Act
 
Major Monitors
Only found in southern New Guinea, Argus monitors are just one of about 20 monitor species found in the area. They’re among some of the largest lizard species in the world and are related to Komodo dragons.  Like all monitors, the Argus monitor has a forked tongue and a special organ in the roof of the mouth.  This organ – called the vomeronasal organ – is used to “smell” the air, helping an Argus monitor search for a meal.
 
Ground Dweller, Tree Hugger, Water Lover
Eating anything they can overpower, Argus monitors are versatile predators.  Living in a variety of habitats, these large lizards spend most of their time on the ground.  Their avid diggers and create large burrows to spend the hotter portions of the day in.  If necessary, an Argus monitor will just take over an existing burrow.  However, Argus monitors are just as comfortable in trees and spend time in or near water.
 
I’m Bigger Than You!
In order to appear larger if threatened, Argus monitors stand on their hind legs, using their muscular tail to balance.  This tripod behavior can also be used to spot potential predators or prey from a distance.  It’s also a unique characteristic that separates them from most other monitor species.
 
Argus Monitors at Brookfield Zoo
Our two male Argus monitors can often be seen basking and climbing on branches in their exhibit at Perching Bird House. 

Get Involved

Conservation Fund of the Chicago Zoological Society