Closely related to the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), the strikingly distinctive northern Sierra Madre forest monitor (Varanus bitatawa) was formally described as a new species in 2010. Its large, robust body is black on the dorsal surface which contrasts against golden-yellow spotted patterning. Its black head and neck are also speckled with yellow, whereas the tail has regular yellow and black barring. This species’ forelimbs are predominantly yellow, compared to the hind limbs which are black with large yellow blotches (1).
The juvenile northern Sierra Madre forest monitor differs in often having more yellow patterning on its body compared to the adult, and having three ‘V’ shaped grey bands on its throat (1).
The colour of the northern Sierra Madre forest monitor does not appear to fade with age, unlike in its closest relative, Gray’s monitor (Varanus olivaceus) (1).
As in many monitor lizards, the northern Sierra Madre forest monitor has a double-ended hemipenis
[ ]which is indicative of its species (1) (2).
- Length: c. 2 m (1)
- c. 10 kg (2)