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Varanus exanthematicus (BOSC, 1792)

IUCN Red List - Varanus exanthematicus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaVaranidae, Platynota, Varanoidea, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Savannah Monitor
G: Steppenwaran 
SynonymLacerta exanthematica BOSC 1792: 25
Varanus exanthematicus MERREM 1820: 60
Varanus ocellatus HEYDEN in RÜPPELL 1830: 21 (fide MERTENS 1963: 7)
Varanus ocellatus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1836: 496
Monitor exanthematicus — SCHLEGEL 1839: 70
Varanus ocellatus — BOULENGER 1885: 308
Varanus ocellatus — LOVERIDGE 1936: 59
Varanus exanthematicus — BOULENGER 1885: 308
Varanus exanthematicus — SCHMIDT 1919: 480
Varanus ocellatus — WERNER 1919: 485
Varanus exanthematicus ocellatus — MERTENS 1938
Varanus (Empagusia) exanthematicus — MERTENS 1942
Varanus exanthematicus — DE LISLE 1996: 123
Varanus (Polydaedalus) exanthematicus — BÖHME 2002
Varanus exanthematicus — TRAPE, CHIRIO & TRAPE 2012
Varanus (Polydaedalus) exanthematicus — BUCKLITSCH et al. 2016: 50
Varanus exanthematics — MUSAH et al. 2019 (in error) 
DistributionMauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea (Conakry), Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Sudan (Jumhūriyyat), Republic of South Sudan (RSS), Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, N Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Zimbabwe

USA (introduced to Florida)

Type locality: "ad fluvium Senegal" = Senegal River.  
TypesHolotype: lost fide de LISLE 2009: 17; supposedly in MNHN but not located and perhaps never given to MNHN collections (I. Ineich, pers. comm., March 2019). 
DiagnosisDiagnostic Characteristics: (1) Distinguished from V. flavescens by the slit-shaped nares and from V. albigularis by the flattened scales on the neck. (2) Nares almost equidistant between eye and tip of snout. (3) Large scales all over the body. (Bennett in Pianka et al. 2004)

Description: “V. exanthematicus is a stockily built monitor lizard with a short tail and a large head. Nares are slitlike and are situated slightly closer to the eye than the tip of the snout. Tail is short (90%-120% of SVL), with a low double keel on the median third. Body color is basically brown, sometimes gray or dull orange, with varying numbers of lighter, dark- edged spots over the dorsum that sometimes form bands or a reticulum. The tail is uniform or shows inconspicuous banding. Newly hatched individuals often have a noticeable yellow tinge to the snout that disappears within weeks. Supraoculars are not enlarged; other scales on the top of the head are larger and irregularly shaped, increasing in size and becoming more regularly oval shaped and flattened on the neck. Each nuchal scale is surrounded by clusters of small scales. Scales on the dorsum have a pit on their smooth surface and one or two dark patches, most prominent on the hind legs and at the base of the tail. Ventral scales are smooth, rectangular, and regular. There are 81 to 103 scales around the body and 58 to 73 scales from the gular fold to the insertion of the hind limbs.” (Bennett in Pianka et al. 2004) 
CommentHunted as food by local people in Mali (Joger & Lambert 1996).

Distribution: possibly introduced to Mexico (Jalisco); For a detailed distrubtion map and locality data see BAYLESS (2002). 
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