Varanus salvadorii

Papuawaran ( Varanus salvadorii ), Cincinnati Zoo

The Papuawaran ( Varanus salvadorii ), sometimes referred to as tree crocodile, is a species of Squamata ( Squamata ) from the family of monitor lizards ( Varanidae ). With a total length of up to approximately 2.5 m of this endemic species of New Guinea is one of the largest known extant lizards. As detailed field observations are missing, the species is only poorly understood.


The Papuawaran reached a total length of about 2.5 m, the longest reliably measured specimen was a total of 2.65 m long. Ten additional specimens were measured from 1.16 to 2.55 m long and weighed 5 to 6.38 kg. The tail is very long, its length is 2.7 times the head-body length. The cited to date older assumptions and stories from locals that the Papuawaran is up to 4.5 m long, are obvious exaggerations.

The head is quite easily built, the muzzle blunt, nostrils closer to the snout and rather round than a slot. The teeth are laterally flattened, slightly curved and very sharp, but only weakly serrated. They stand almost upright on the jawbone and are compared to other lizards very long. The Papuawaran has several Gularfalten. The tail is approximately at the base in cross section and is further away from the body in cross section triangular in shape.

The base color ranges from brown to deep black, next to this shows the kind irregularly distributed yellow dots and eye patch and cross rings around the tail. From other sympatric lizards he is distinguished by his side not flattened tail and its many Gularfalten or by features of the scalation either.


The Papuawaran exclusively inhabited New Guinea, a detailed compilation of all known records can be found in Horn et al (2007). It inhabits the northern coast from the extreme west to Vamingo and the entire southern half of the island from the far west to the islands Sarawati and Warir over the bird's head peninsula to the area around Port Moresby in the east. It comes from the coast to about 600 m above sea level before, and lives mainly in rain and swamp forests.

Way of life

The Papuawaran is diurnal and arboreal, but which is occasionally find on the ground. The powerful legs and strong, curved claws are adaptations to climbing, it uses its long tail to keep climbing and jumping from branch to branch balance, but not as a prehensile tail. He is highly agile and is characterized by enormous quick locomotion and like all monitor lizards high, when Papuawaran probably in the lower power range of endothermic metabolism of lying. Captive animals spend most of the day basking on thick branches. Occasionally they rest for a long time in the water part of the enclosure, probably a thermoregulatory behavior.

Confirmed information about nutrition in nature in the form of examined stomach contents are not available. It is assumed that it feeds on insects, small mammals, birds and their eggs; especially eggs seem to be an important part of its diet. Locals reported according to Schultze- Westrum (1972 ) that the Papuawaran tear deer, pigs and dogs; such prey is then to be taken and eaten in the trees. In turn, this seems very unlikely. Captive Papuawarane accept cuts of meat, eggs, mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish pieces and dog food. You did not kill live rats by warantypisches, violent shaking of the head at the bite, but could obviously rely solely on their strong bite force and the strong teeth. For hunting behavior in nature, there are no details.

Parasites of Wild Papuawarane especially ticks are significant. Flagellates, mites and tapeworms were confirmed as endoparasites.

For social behavior and reproduction in nature are no data. In captivity, male Papuawarane can not be kept together, as males will usually be delivered by merging Comment fights. Nest in captivity contained 4-12 eggs were laid and from October to January. For the strong differences in size of the eggs, which are 43.3 to 60.8 g in weight, there is no explanation. Most sold in captivity clutches were infertile, and only four managed to offspring. The hatchlings were about 45 cm long, colorful (more brilliant in color) colored than older animals and took small insects and reptiles as food.


The first description was in 1878 by Peters & Doria. If the Hemipenismorphologie taken as a systematic feature ( Ziegler & Böhme 1997), so Varanus salvadorii belongs in the monotypic subgenus Papusaurus, considered the sister group of all other Indo- Australian lines of development due to its unique hemipenes. According to molecular biological analyzes ( Ast 2001), however, is the sister taxon of Varanus Varanus salvadorii komodoensis; this in turn is Varanus varius Kladus the sister taxon. This seems plausible as Varanus varius a similar ecological niche as Varanus salvadorii busy, probably reached Australia and New Guinea grew to become allopatric to Varanus salvadorii. However, the common characteristics of Varanus Varanus varius salvadorii and could also be due to convergent evolution.

Papuawarane and people

In New Guinea the natives hold " an evil spirit who climbed trees, upright runs, spits fire and killing people " for the Papuawaran. According to the locals, it is to kill people and eat a proof of this does not exist. The inhabitants of the Arfak mountains on the bird's head peninsula again hunt the Papuawaran his flesh due.

About the existence of the Papuawarans nothing is known, in 1994 the total number of ever exported for zoos and museums specimens was estimated to be 30-50. Stocks were thus far hardly influenced by man. The species is conducted in the Washington Convention in Annex II.


  • H.-G. Horn ( 2004): Varanus salvadorii. In: ER Pianka & DR King ( ed.): Varanoid Lizards of the World, pp. 234-243. Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, ISBN 0-253-34366-6