The Timor monitor is a dwarf species of monitor lizard belonging to the Odatria complex. Generally, it is dark greenish-gray to almost black in background color, with bright gold-yellow or sometimes bluish spotting along its dorsal surface and a lighter straw-yellow color on its ventral side. It has a pointed snout, excellent eyesight and hearing, sharp teeth, and a prehensile tail that measures two-thirds of its total length. V. timorensis also has long, sharp claws well-suited for climbing and defense. The species grows to a maximum of 61 cm, and weighs between 100 and 350 g.
Timor monitors are arboreal, diurnal lizards. Their diets consist of a variety of invertebrates, plus other lizards, such as geckos. Breeding takes place from December to March, and clutches of up to 11 eggs are laid; the eggs incubate three to four months, depending on the average temperature. Hatchlings are about 5 in long, but grow quickly.
Frequently bred in captivity, this monitor is also still imported in small numbers for the exotic pet trade. Wild-caught specimens can be nervous and difficult to handle, but captive-raised animals are much less shy. Its small size makes it an attractive choice for any varanid enthusiast, as they are easily housed in an enclosure oriented towards vertical climbing space (optimally a custom enclosure of 4'x2'x2', or larger for pairs and groups), ample hiding spots, a basking area between 120 and 150 °F, with ambient temperatures between 78 and 90 °F. A medium-sized bowl of water is recommended for the occasional soak, or the cage can be misted once every few days to maintain humidity between 40 and 60%. They readily feed on a diet of commercially available crickets, roaches, mealworms, and occasionally mice.
- Cogger, H. (1967). Australian Reptiles in Colour. Sydney: A. H. & A. W. Reed, ISBN 0-589-07012-6
- King, Dennis & Green, Brian. 1999. Goannas: The Biology of Varanid Lizards. University of New South Wales Press. ISBN 0-86840-456-X
- Species Varanus timorensis at The Reptile Database