Wild Ornate monitor nest

Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Warren Klein » Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:33 pm

I received a call on Friday from site security informing me of a Water monitor (Varanus ornatus) digging a nest on a service road on the perimeter of a gas plant located in Northern Angola in the mouth of the Congo river. The nest was made in sandy soil above a water drainage channel opposite a small patch of mangroves which would normally be an ideal situation if it were not for the close proximity to the gas plant on the opposite side of the channel. To prevent any harm to the nest as well as the future hatchlings when they would emerge, I decided it was best to remove the clutch for artificial incubation.

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When I arrived at the site the female monitor was just closing the nest and camouflaging the area by scratching sand from around egg chamber. I will note this activity was taking place on an overcast morning about 10:00am. As I approached the nest from about 30m the female saw me and immediately bolted into the drainage channel and hid underwater.

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There was a lot of disturbance on the ground around the nest site which looked like the monitor had made an effort to cover her tracks and disguise the exact location of her eggs, much in the same way a sea turtle dose. With a bit of poking around I managed to locate her nest and started excavating.

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Monitors will normally dig a body cavity hole and then the actual egg chamber off of that which was the case here too. Most of the females body would have been submerged at the time of egg deposition. The actual depth of the nest was no more than 400mm below the surface but the total length of her whole excavation must have been closer to 650mm and turned to the right side where the eggs were found tightly packed at very end of this chamber.

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As it’s not too common to find a wild Ornate monitors nest I thought I should take a few measurements and weights of the eggs while I had the opportunity. The following are measurements of 12 of the total 24 eggs found in nest. #1. 55mm X 35mm 39g; #2. 53mmX34mm 35g; #3. 54mmX33mm 32g; #4. 55mmX35mm 39g; #5. 59mmX34mm 40g; #6. 54mmX34mm 39g; #7. 54mmX36mm 39g; #8. 55mmX34mm 37g; #9. 56mmX34mm 38g; #10. 54mmX36mm 37g; #11. 56mmX35mm 37g; #12. 53mmX35mm 37g

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Later in the day I was called out again to the same location as the female monitor had retuned to do some last touch ups to her now empty nest. For me one of the most interesting observations made was how the female monitor returned to her nest site even after it was disturbed to further camouflage the site as if she knew she had unfinished business to tend to. What a good lizard mother! Now lets see how long these babies take to hatch!
An inaccurate naturalist is a pest and a danger, forever perpetuating illogical deductions and landing later naturalists in trouble. Damm and blast them all to hell in the most painful way. C.J.P. Ionides
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby levi_20 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:25 am

Really enjoy your posts, great observations! Thanks
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Warren Klein » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:51 pm

Thank you levi_20 ;)
An inaccurate naturalist is a pest and a danger, forever perpetuating illogical deductions and landing later naturalists in trouble. Damm and blast them all to hell in the most painful way. C.J.P. Ionides
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Mitton » Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:41 pm

Nice save, can't wait when you update us when they hatch.
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Allen G. Liebenberg » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:36 am

Hi Warren.Very nice-would be good if a temperature monitor could be placed in the ground where the eggs were found. this would give info for us to use for more accurate natural incubation temps.
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Westley Price » Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:53 pm

Awesome find.

I really hope the eggs hatch for you, even if it is just to release the babies.

Well done on you!
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Warren Klein » Thu Jul 09, 2015 6:19 pm

Thanks Mitton, me too!

Hi Allen, I agree that would be interesting data to collected. Years back I checked the temperature inside a sea turtle nest which was about 100m from the site of this monitor nest in the same type of sand and it was right around 30C at a depth of 400mm.

Thank you Westley, I hope so as well. I already have a great location in mind quite far from any development to release the hatchling when they pop out! Let’s hope they go full term.
An inaccurate naturalist is a pest and a danger, forever perpetuating illogical deductions and landing later naturalists in trouble. Damm and blast them all to hell in the most painful way. C.J.P. Ionides
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby GraemeEC » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:19 pm

You won't have any available willyou, As would like to keep some and breed them aswell.The female was a nice green color.Stunning specimen,wonder how the babies will turn out.
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Warren Klein » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:32 am

These are not from my private collection and are to be relocated and released into the wild. V. ornatus are prettier than most V. niloticus I have seen but their temperament is much the same and don't make the best captives as far as monitors go.
An inaccurate naturalist is a pest and a danger, forever perpetuating illogical deductions and landing later naturalists in trouble. Damm and blast them all to hell in the most painful way. C.J.P. Ionides
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Bushviper » Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:49 pm

I dont think that female realises that you have done her a massive favour and these eggs could have been taken by any predator.
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Re: Wild Ornate monitor nest

Postby Warren Klein » Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:11 pm

Thanks BV, but it's the upright hominid predators which were more of the concern in this case ;)
An inaccurate naturalist is a pest and a danger, forever perpetuating illogical deductions and landing later naturalists in trouble. Damm and blast them all to hell in the most painful way. C.J.P. Ionides
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