The Nile monitor is a large member of the monitor lizard found throughout much of Africa.
Nile monitors can grow to about 120 – 220 cm in length, with the largest specimens attaining 244 cm. In an average-sized specimen, the snout-to-vent length will be around 50 cm. They weigh about 6 – 15 kg. They have muscular bodies, strong legs, and powerful jaws. Their teeth are sharp and pointed in juvenile animals and become blunt and peg-like in adults. They also possess sharp claws used for climbing, digging, defense, or tearing at their prey.
Like all monitors, they have forked tongues, with highly developed olfactory properties. The Nile monitor has quite striking, but variable, skin patterns, as they are greyish-brown above with greenish-yellow barring on the tail and large, greenish-yellow rosette-like spots on their backs with a blackish tiny spot in the middle. Their throats and undersides are an ochre-yellow to a creamy-yellow, often with faint barring.
Their nostrils are placed high on their snouts, indicating these animals are highly aquatic. They are also excellent climbers and quick runners on land. Nile monitors feed on fish, snails, frogs, crocodile eggs and young snakes, birds, small mammals, insects and carrion. They are also the second largest reptile in the Nile river.