The Timor monitor is a little jewel of a lizard. Many
subspecies have been described but all are now assigned
to different species (i.e. V.timorensis similis
and V.timorensis orientalis
). The Timor monitor
lives on just a few small islands in the south of Indonesia;
Timor, Sawu, Roti and Samoa/Seman/Kisser. It reaches a total length of about 60cm (25cm
SVL) and has a tail 137-176% of the SVL. The heaviest recorded from the wild was 290g
(Mertens 1958; Brandenberg 1983; King 1993).
Very little is known about the Timor monitor in the wild . They climb well and have been seen
basking on fences around human habitations. When threatened they may take shelter on the
ground or in trees. Like most dwarf monitors its diet consists of other reptiles (geckoes and
small snakes) and invertebrates such as scorpions, orthopterans, spiders, mantids, bees and
roaches (Schmutz & Horn 1986; Losos & Green 1888; King 1993). Aspects of ritual combat
in this species are discussed in Horn (1985).
The Timor monitor responds well to good captive care and breeding has been recorded quite
regularly (Anon 1980, Belcher 1980, Sautereau & Bitter 1980, Behrmann 1981, Rese 1983;
Moehn 1984, Eidenimuller 1986, Lambertz 1995). This species is not as robust as V.scalaris
and tends to come off worst when the two species are housed together (Murphy 1972).
There are no spines around the vents of males to help distinguish sexes (Mertens 1942b). An
enclosure of 0.5m2
is sufficient to house a pair, but ample climbing space should be provided
with plenty of hiding places above ground. Timor monitors seem to tolerate each other well
and colonies can be maintained without much fighting providing, of course, sufficient space is
available. A diet of tiny rodents, egg yolk and insects is suitable, supplemented with vitamin
and mineral supplements. Reproductive behaviour may be stimulated by introducing a 24
hour photoperiod (Anon 1980). Even long term captives tend to lay eggs between December
and March each year (when breeding is the wild is believed to take place). A single clutch of
up to 11 eggs is produced, which hatch after 93-1 86 days depending on incubation
temperature. Best results have been obtained at 27-30°C. Hatchlings measure 5.5-7cm SVL
and weigh 4.5-6g. They can double in weight within 8 weeks.