Varanus indicus species-complex

Varanus indicus species-complex

Turquoise Monitor (Varanus caerulivirens)

Varanus caerulivirens was described in 1999 (Ziegler, Böhme & Philipp). Specimens had been imported through the pet trade a few years prior to this.

This species is highly arboreal but forages largely on the ground. They are found in primary and secondary lowland forests, plantations, and mountain forests but avoid saltwater environments (for more on this species' habits see Weijola 2010).

Distinctive Features (from Ziegler, Böhme & Philipp 1999)

Background color: Greyish-brown to black interspersed with tiny turquoise-blue flecks (at a distance, animal often appears an overall bluish color)

Dorsal pattern: Light-colored ocelli arranged in around twenty transverse rows. Ocelli may become less conspicuous towards the posterior.

Tail pattern: Anterior third spotted as on the dorsal surface; posterior two thirds banded (blue pigmentation present)

Throat/ventral pattern: Ventral surface light (beige) in color; throat weakly spotted; ventral surface marbled

Post-ocular stripe: Present

Tongue color: Pink, typically possessing a dark tip

Range

Known from Halmahera, Morotai, Bacan, and Obi in the Moluccas. May possibly occur on other nearby islands such as Kasiruta (Weijola 2010).

Photo courtesy of Valter Weijola.

Specimen located at Fuzhou Zoo, People's Republic of China. Note pink tongue in first two photos: a hallmark of this species. Photos courtesy of Mo Chen.

Status in Captivity

Varanus caerulivirens has been imported and continues to be on an irregular basis. When available, they are often marketed as 'blue pinspot monitors'. The distinct appearance of this animal means that, unlike many other indicus-complex monitors, they are typically sold with regards to their true identity instead of simply as generic 'mangrove monitors'. When available, they are rarely as sought-after as some other forms (i.e. Varanus melinus) and do not command exorbitant prices. This mild demand should not be considered a bad thing as, like all other wild-caught indicus-type monitors, they rarely thrive in captivity. This species has been bred at least once or twice though I am unaware of whether these were intentional or accidental.

Sources

Weijola, V. S. A. (2010): Geographical distribution and habitat use of monitor lizards of the north Moluccas. Biawak 4 (1): 7-23. (http://www.varanidae.org/Vol4_No1.pdf)

Ziegler, T., Böhme, W. & K. M. Philipp (1999): Varanus caerulivirens sp. N., a new monitor lizard of the V. indicus group from Halmahera, Moluccas, Indonesia (Squamata: Sauria: Varanidae). Herpetozoa 12: 45-56.