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Question
Would like information about the golden spotted monitor lizard.

# of them in the world
feeding habits
habitat
reproduction
adaptations

Thanks,
Patti
Science teacher (Grades 2-4)

Answer
Assuming that this lizard is Varanus bitatawa, also known as the Sierra Madre Forest Monitor, which was fairly recently recognized as a new species in the Philippines, there is not a lot of information available.  It was identified back in 2010.

This monitor lizard, unlike most, feeds primarily on fruit (particularly Pandanus fruit), and also eats snails.  It lives only in the forested mountains of the island of Luzon in the Philippines, and is imperiled by deforestation.

Its reproductive habits are unknown.  Most monitor lizards lay eggs.  The female will excavate a burrow, lay her eggs, then fill it in.  Young will burrow out when they hatch, and are on their own.

Its ability to eat fruit is an unusual adaptation in a monitor lizard; only 3 monitor species in the world eat fruit.  It also climbs well.  It grows to around six feet, so is a fairly large lizard.  Its coloration enables it to blend in with the muted colors and dappled sunlight of its habitat, and it spends much of its time in the trees.

While there is no data on the number of the lizards remaining, there is little doubt that this is another example of a species that has been discovered after it was already threatened or endangered.

As usual, scientists are far behind the native peoples of the island, who call the lizard Butikaw, and eat it regularly.

http://news.discovery.com/animals/endangered-species/giant-monitor-lizard.htm

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Donna Fernstrom

Expertise

My particular focus is on snakes and lizards, but I have a decent smattering of knowledge of turtles and crocodilians as well, plus the experience to get relevant information quickly if I don't have it on hand in my brain. I can answer questions on captive care, diet, breeding, incubation of eggs, starting hatchlings, and more. I am particularly experienced with ball pythons, Lygodactylus geckos and other small lizards with similar care requirements, leopard geckos, and garter snakes.

Experience

I am a professional breeder of ball python morphs, Lygodactylus (dwarf) geckos, and mourning geckos. I have begun working with Irian Jaya carpet pythons, and plan to expand to include more gecko species in the future. I also have a background breeding leopard geckos, and have kept several other species of small lizards, snakes, and a water turtle.

Organizations
Nebraska Herpetological Society (nebherp.org)

Publications
I have many care sheets published on my own website.

Education/Credentials
High School Graduate. Extensively self-taught due to high interest in wildlife and reptile care.

Awards and Honors
Fauna Classifieds board of inquiry Good Guy Certification

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