Monitor is also the common name of the species of lizard of the Family Varandiae. While in the fossil record there is a great diversity of these giant lizards, there is currently only the genus Varanus which is extant. They can be found in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific Isles. The only tropical environment lacking monitor lizards is South America, where the niche is occupied by the Teiidae, another family of giant lizards.

There are at least 46 species of monitors today, of which the Komodo dragon is probably the most famous. Some other well known members of the genus are:

  • Savannah monitor (V. exanthematicus) -- The most common of these lizards found in the pet trade. They tend to be robust and are not climbers, unlike many other species. They have a maximum length of around 4 feet, and can weigh up to 30 pounds or more. They may be the most tame of the monitor species.
  • White-throated monitor (V. albigularis) -- This species is also found commonly in the pet trade. It is very similar to the Savannah monitor, but reaches greater length (up to 6 feet).
  • Nile monitor (V. niloticus) -- This is one of the larger species (can grow to over eight feet) that can be found in pet shops, and they have a reputation for being amongst the nastiest of monitors.
  • Water monitor (V. salvator salvator) -- Also a larger monitor, and similar in appearance to the Nile. It has the reputation for being far more docile than niloticus.
  • Crocodile monitor (V. salvadorii) -- This animal can reach lengths of up to ten feet, and may be the most vicious creatures. Moreover, they are also arboreal, making captive care extremely daunting.
All of the monitor species are gorgeous, fascinating animals and are superb predators. They are almost all capable of delivering horrible bites and puncturing their caregivers with their claws. Despite the fair degree of risk associated with their care, you can find babies of most of the species identified above for sale by unscrupulous and uncaring profiteers.
OK, I know I shouldn't do this, but I'm a newbie and I have to make some mistakes along the way. There's a soft link below to the cut and paste node. That's all fine and good, but I didn't cut and paste this. Every single fucking word of it is mine. I have kept monitors in the past. I know the animals. If I had room, I'd have one right now. OK, /rant.