Varanus indicus species-complex

Varanus indicus species-complex

Unknown Varanus sp.

A number of indicus-complex specimens are known which do not bear even passing resemblence to any described form. Almost all of these exist as isolated specimens imported from some unknown location for the pet trade. Besides these, far more specimens come to light which resemble a known taxon in most regards but differ enough from the recognized description of said species that they cannot be classified as such with absolute confidence. These may prove to represent distinct taxa or may merely be variations of a known species, thus requiring a more complete understanding of the identity of some species.

"Varanus dore-indicus"

The nickname is based on the fact that this animal appears as something of a cross between Varanus doreanus and Varanus indicus. Of all the mystery indicus-type monitors known today, this one bears such little resemblance to any described form it simply cannot be accurately classified. I believe specimens started to turn up in collections in the early 2000s. I am not aware of exactly how prevalent the form is now in the pet trade, though photos (especially from Indonesian keepers) do grace the internet quite frequently. The origin is unknown for certain, though most rumors center around the island of Biak. I have also been informed that animals of this type are coming from Wasior, on the nearby New Guinea mainland.

Photos courtesy of John Adragna.

The same type of animal, but as a juvenile. Photos courtesy of John Adragna.

Photos courtesy of Alex Monsalve. Note tongue color (purple).

Photo courtesy of Ibram Santos.

 A similar looking "Varanus indicus" specimen. Further information not available. Photo courtesy of Robert Sprackland.

Photos of a very similar (likely identical) form. Photos courtesy of Jody Pieper.Specimen 1.Specimen 1.Specimen 1.Specimen 1 (Photo taken two years after first set).Specimen 1 (Photo taken two years after first set). Note tongue color (purple).Specimen 2.Specimen 2.Specimen 2 (Photo taken two years after first set).

The following five photos of a specimen from the collection of a keeper in Jakarta also appear identical to the preceding two sets of animals from keepers in the United States (note the general pattern of spotting, the snout bands, the bright yellow throat). From the photos, morphological similarities seem to be present as well (snout shape). While the certain origin of all is unknown and it is impossible to designate taxonomy (though it can safely be said that they do not conform to any recognized Varanus species) or speculate about relationships now, it is likely that all three are identical.


Note the golden yellow coloration, which appears far brighter than that seen in most indicus-complex specimens (I am told this is not an artifact of photography). The last two photos in this set show the same specimen as pictured in the first three photos, aged one year.



 The previous two photos show the same animal at 2 and 9 months of age, respectively. Photo courtesy of Iqbal Hanif.


Another specimen pictured as a hatching and at 12 months. This is the only photo of a hatching of this form that I have come across; note the strong resemblance to hatching V. doreanus. Photos courtesy of Iqbal Hanif.


Another example of this general phenotype. Said to be from Sorong but, as always, this is unreliable pet trade information. Photo courtesy of Leon Alkasah.

"Varanus dwyeri"

"Varanus dwyeri" is a animal which has never been officially described, though is regarded as representing a distinct species. The pictured specimen was owned by Mark Bayless. In 2006, Mark submitted a paper describing the animal as "Varanus dwyeri", named after herpetoculturalist Quetzal Dwyer of Reptiliandia in Costa Rica. However, due to the fact that the specimen's origin was unknown (originally thought to have been from Tulagi and Gavutu in the Florida Group, Solomon Islands, which proved to be incorrect), the paper was rejected and the animal is currently Varanus sp. As the name "Varanus dwyeri" had been used on various websites prior to its publication in a journal, the name is now considered a nomen nudum. Thus, this animal still awaits formal description which will not occur until specimens with reliable locality data turn up. Photos courtesy of John Adragna.

Unknown indicus-complex animal from an unknown locality. This trade specimen was originally described as V. rainerguentheri but does not correspond to that - or any other known - taxon (Note: rainerguentheri has become something of a 'waste-basket taxon' in the pet trade where any indicus-complex animal that cannot be classified as another known species is slapped with this name). Photo courtesy of Leon Alkasah.

This animal appears to have a mixing of features from several indicus-complex forms, particularly Varanus cerambonensis and Varanus rainerguentheri including in that it possesses a bi-colored tongue. Locality data or other information is not available. Photos courtesy of William Shopik.