Uses Of Man by Monitor Lizards

Humanity offers food and shelter to the monitor lizards. A few large monitors will eat people when given the opportunity, but most have to be content with buried corpses that they locate by smell and exhume. In many parts of the world graveyards have to be heavily protected against monitor lizards by packing the ground with clay or coral, or by enclosing the area within a strong fence (e.g. Taylor 1963). Only a few, very large, Komodo dragons are capable of catching and consuming an healthy adult, but small children could potentially fall victim to a number of species. Monitors have an unfavourable reputation for stealing animals (usually young chickens) from man in most parts of the world and for this reason are often killed when encountered by farmers. In some cultures monitor lizards are tolerated rather than encouraged. Local customs often forbid the killing of monitor lizards for any reason, but their antisocial behaviour does not necessarily go unpunished. Cisse (1971) recalls that a Senegalese man who found a Nile monitor in his house helping itself to his breakfast eggs found himself unable to kill the intruder, but vented his anger by tying the animal up and giving it a sound thrashing with a belt before releasing it, bruised but otherwise unharmed. It remained in the vicinity, but never entered his house again.

Monitor lizards love messy campers and tidy up a great deal of their mess, including scraps of food, faeces and, unfortunately, plastic bags and other inedible debris that smells of food. In many areas they seem aware of the habits of holiday makers, and consistently emerge just minutes after the last tourist bus has departed . Less shy individuals may actively solicit food from people and will even "beg" for food in a dog-like manner.



Attribution / Courtesy: Daniel Bennett. 1995. A Little Book of Monitor Lizards. Viper Press U.K.