Habitat: Sri Lanka
Status: Least Concern
Did you know that dragons really existed? They apparently have been living in Sri Lanka this entire time and are called Asian Water Monitors (Varanus salvator). Gosh why didn’t we think to look there?!?
These are extremely large reptiles reaching lengths of 10.5 ft and can be over 55 lbs. They use their long, powerfully built tails (raised fin included) to ably and swiftly propel themselves through the water.
Here are some especially interesting facts I picked up from Wikipedia:
- In Thailand, the word water monitor or actually local word ‘เหี้ย’ (hia) is used as an insulting word for bad and evil things including a bad person. Its name is also considered a word bringing bad luck, so some people prefer to call them ‘ตัวเงินตัวทอง’ which means ‘silver and gold’ in Thai to avoid the jinx.
- The origin of this offensive meaning can be traced back to a time when more people lived in rural areas in close proximity to monitor lizards. Traditionally, Thai villagers lived in 2-story houses, the top floor was for living while the ground floor was designed to be a space for domestic animals such as pigs, chickens, and dogs. Water monitors would enter the ground floor and eat or maim the domestic animals, also hence the other name ‘ตัวกินไก่’ (Tua kin kai – chicken eater).
Oh, and if you have the stomach for it, check out this tame Asian Water Monitor named Dino eating some unfertilized eggs (there’s 11 minutes to this – closeups are at the end of the video)! It’s kinda wild.