Varanus indicus species-complex

Varanus indicus species-complex

Talaud Mangrove Monitor (Varanus lirungensis)

Varanus lirungensis was described in 2009 (Koch, Arida, Schmitz, Böhme & Ziegler). Prior to this, specimens from the Talaud Islands (the most north-westerly range of any indicus-complex animals) had been considered as Varanus indicus.

Varanus lirungensis is found in coastal habitats including coconut plantations and, like Varanus indicus, appear to prefer saltwater habitats. This species is known to be semi-arboreal. Little else is thus far known about this recently-described species.

Distinctive Features (from Koch, Arida, Schmitz, Böhme & Ziegler 2009)

Background color: Black

Dorsal pattern: Yellow spots (three to eight scales in size), forming indistinct blotches or transverse bands

Tail pattern: Mottled with scattered yellow scales (blue pigmentation absent)

Throat/ventral pattern: Ventral surface light yellowish, possessing faded bands; throat pinkish and lightly spotted on the sides

Post-ocular stripe: Absent

Tongue color: Pink at base and ventrally; grey dorsally


Known from Pulau Salibabu and Karakelong in the Talaud Islands, though it may occur throughout this island group.

Holotype for Varanus lirungensis (MZB Lac. 5178). Photo courtesy of André Koch.

Status in Captivity

Varanus lirungensis has not yet been imported for the pet trade to my knowledge. I am not aware of how much collecting activity (if any) occurs in the Talaud Islands, though given its close resemblance to other indicus-type monitors it is certainly possible that a few have turned up unacknowledged.


Koch, A.; Arida, E.; Schmitz, A.; Böhme, W. & T. Ziegler (2009): Refining the polytypic species concept of mangrove monitors (Squamata: Varanus indicus group): a new cryptic species from the Talaud Islands, Indonesia, reveals the underestimated diversity of Indo-Australian monitor lizards. Australian Journal of Zoology 57: 29-40.