The Asian water monitor lizard is one of the largest lizard species in the world, reaching maximum lengths of up to almost 10 feet and weighing nearly 200 pounds. Its average size is about 5 to 7 feet in length, and males tend to be larger than females. These lizards inhabit areas near water on the Indian subcontinent, Indochina, the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia.
Asian water monitors can swim long distances and stay under water for up to half an hour. When threatened, they have the ability to climb trees but prefer to head for water. They use their powerful jaws, claws and long tails for fighting. They are extreme carnivores and eat any animals they catch, including fish, lizards, snakes, frogs, birds, small mammals and small crocodiles. They also eat carrion and have been known to dig up human graves and devour corpses. After mating, females lay up to 40 eggs, usually in termite mounds or burrows dug near bodies of water. The eggs take 200 to over 300 days to hatch depending on the climate and nesting site.
Despite their size, Asian water monitors are popular pets. They require a large, solidly built enclosure with a water source large enough for them to soak and temperatures ranging from 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. They also require a long-term commitment, as they live up to 25 years. When they are young, they can be picked up and handled, but when they become adults, owners must beware of bites from their large, powerful jaws.