Black tree monitor, Beccari's monitor
Beccari's monitor is usually considered a subspecies of
Varanus prasinus. Sprackland (1990) considered it to be
a separate species on the basis of its entirely black
colouration and more keeled neck scales. It may also
reach a larger size than the emerald monitor with a maximum size of 34cm SVL, 94.5cm TL.
Beccari's monitor is apparently found only on the Aru Islands and nothing is known of its
ecology. Like emerald monitors they are superbly adapted for an arboreal existence. They
may inhabit mangroves swamps and crabs may form an important part of their diet (Pattullo,
pers. comm.). In captivity they should be housed in the same manner as emerald monitors.
Although the Aru Islands receive less rainfall than the rest of New Guinea the animals
appreciate water as much as their green relatives. Like other members of the prasinus group,
Beccari's monitors are sociable animals and can usually be housed in groups without incident.
The presence of more than one male may increase the chances of initiating courtship.
Unusual apparent appeasing behaviour, in which the weaker animal rubs his chin on the
dominant animal's pelvis and tail has been observed in these animals (Branham & Wheeler,
pers. comm.). Breeding has been reported on a few occasions (Branham, pers, comm.,
Wanner 1991, Eiderunuller & Wicker 1992; Biebl 1994b). Clutches of up to six eggs
measuring 4.5 × 1.5cm are laid, which hatch after about 240 days at 27.7°C and 172-203
days at 27 -30°C. Hatchlings often possess a bright pattern consisting of rows of green or
yellow spots which completely disappear within twelve weeks. Unfortunately most hatchlings
produced to date have died after a short time. They may be unable to tolerate humidity that is
too low or too high and appear to be particularly susceptible to infections. Hatchlings should
he handled as little as possible and housed separately. These bonnie wee beasties will feed on
a variety of insects and occasional meals of small vertebrates.