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Asia Hong Kong Species Fact File

Water Monitor – Hong Kong Wildlife | 水巨蜥 – 香港野生動物

A gray area in Hong Kong fauna. Once thought to be locally extinct. Now they are here again! Some think they are native. Others think they are imports.

Varanus salvator (Laurenti, 1768)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Varanidae
Genus: Varanus
Species: salvator

Where in HK?
Very rare – reservoirs, rivers, Mai Po marshes

Size: 1.5 – 3.2 m / 4’11 – 10’6″
Distribution: Southern Asia
Habitat: Semi-aquatic
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Diurnal
Conservation status: Least Concern

The Asian water monitor or Common water monitor (Varanus salvator) is the largest lizard in Hong Kong and the world’s second-largest lizard (in weight) after the Komodo dragon. Water monitors can grow to anywhere from 1.5 m (4’11”) to 3.21 m (10’6″) as the largest specimen ever recorded.

Outside Hong Kong, it is widely distributed in southern Asia including the Chinese Guangxi and Hainan provinces. The species was first described in 1768. But it’s not until 1961 the species was first officially recorded in Hong Kong (northern New Territories). Since then few sightings have been reported from time to time. But they were mostly believed to be released or escaped from imports. Many think that those are from the pet market. But I think the food market would be the most possible main source.

They are still rare in Hong Kong but I have been spotting more of them in recent years. Whether natives or imports, it is kind of proven that they have already (re)established a small population in Hong Kong and become our permanent residents.

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

這是一個香港野生動物相的灰色地帶。一度被認為於香港已絕種,但牠們又回來了。有說是香港本地物種, 又有說由外地引入。

水巨蜥, 或者一般大眾認識的五爪金龍, 巨蜥,澤巨蜥,圓鼻巨蜥等等。是香港最大的蜥蝪, 以及科莫多龍以外世界上第二大的蜥蝪(體重計)。由已知的標本紀錄所得知, 水巨蜥體長可由1.5米達到3.21米不等。

在香港以外, 廣泛分佈於亞洲南方中國廣西及海南一帶。最早於1768年有紀錄形容這個物種, 但只有在1961年才第一次於香港(新界北)有官方的紀錄。由於只有少量的發現個案, 普遍認為是外地引入時被野放到野外。 現在牠們在香港仍然非常罕有, 但我在近年有更多的發現。無論牠們是本地品種還是外來的品種, 相信已經在香港(重新)發展到一個數量。