First described as recently as 2001, the Panay monitor lizard (Varanus mabitang) is a large, secretive monitor lizard (Varanus spp.) found only on the island of Panay in the Philippines (2) (3). It has a relatively slender body and a long, thin head, with a pointed and slightly domed snout. The tail is slender and is triangular in cross section, and the scales on the tail are strongly keeled all the way to the tip (3).
The Panay monitor lizard is also characterised by its very large feet, which have long, slender toes and very long, curved, dark grey claws. The scales on its neck, body and tail are extremely small, and the eyes of this species are reddish-brown (3).
The Panay monitor lizard is almost uniformly black, with tiny yellow spots on some of the scales around the neck, back and extremities. Its underside is dark grey to blackish (2) (3). This dark colouration is thought to help disguise the Panay monitor lizard within its naturally shady and densely vegetated habitat (3), and even juveniles are believed to be as uniformly dark as the adults (2).
This large lizard shares its general morphological traits and appearance with the closely related Gray’s monitor (Varanus olivaceus), including slit-like nostrils, blunt teeth, large feet, large head scales, and a large caecum, which is used to help digest its vegetarian diet (3). However, the Panay monitor lizard differs from its relative in being completely dark, rather than lighter greenish-grey with dark bands, and it lacks any patterning on the throat. It also has a more domed snout and more strongly keeled scales on the underparts, and its tail is triangular rather than oval in cross section (3).
- Total length: up to 175 cm (2) (3)
- Snout-vent length: up to 70 cm (2)
- Tail length: up to 111 cm (3)
- 1 - 8 kg (2)