Malayan Water Monitor caught a rodent

Andy Chew was patiently waiting for the Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting) to appear at the Eco-pond in Singapore’s Pasir Ris Park when suddenly he heard a loud splash. The next thing he saw was a smallish monitor lizard with a larger rodent whose snout was clamped between its sharp jaws.

It was fortunate that his camera was at the ready and he managed to document the exciting encounter (above, below).

The lizard dragged the rodent to the other side of the pond where the vegetation was denser. Along the way the lizard would dive into the water, most probably in an effort to drown the rodent. Once it reached the other side, it was not possible to see what happened. Chances are that the lizard had its meal in privacy.

Dr Leong Tzi Ming was shown the images and commented that “The Asian Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) can be a predator as well as scavenger. In this case, it appears to be in its predator mode. It may have smelled the rat and cornered it in its burrow, then grabbed it out with its powerful jaws to be killed and subsequently consumed. Monitor lizards may be more intelligent than we think, and this individual probably had the intention of drowning its prey, before swallowing it. After all, it wouldn’t like to have a rat tickling its tummy, right?”

Andy Chew & *Dr Leong Tzi Ming
30th May 2019

*Note: Dr Leong is one of the contributors to the book, “Baker, N. & K. Lim (eds.). 2008. Wild animals of Singapore: A photographic guide to mammals, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fishes. Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.”


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