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Argus Monitor

Varanus panoptes hornii
Family: Varanidae
Adult Size: 2½ to 4½ feet

Northern Australia

Habitat: Suited to living in an arid to semi-arid environment, but also at home in moist woodlands.
Captive Lifespan: 12 to 20 Years
Care Level: Advanced


This diurnal lizard will be conspicuous to anyone spending time in its range. The Argus monitor is often seen basking near roadways or rapidly running across them, they have the habit of pausing frequently with their heads up to scan for food or potential danger.

Argus monitors are like velociraptors on all fours! They hunt for prey by keying in on movement, chasing it down and overpowering it. Insects, fish, frogs, snakes, birds and small mammals are all on the dinner menu of this nondiscriminate feeder. Captive Argus monitors can be easily persuaded to eat nonliving items such as strips of meat, dog food, eggs, etc.

Argus monitors are husky lizards that can be a real challenge to physically handle. Argus monitors don’t like being restrained, digging sharp claws into one’s flesh in their attempts to squirm free. Never let one wander freely on open ground because their ability to suddenly flee makes escape likely.

V. panoptes is an animal from a warm, subtropical climate. It prefers to bask each morning and return to bask as needed to maintain optimal body temperature in the upper 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures may drop 20 degrees or more if the opportunity to warm up the next day exists. A sturdily built cage at least 4 feet long is the minimum requirement to properly house an adult of this species.

For more information, read our detailed Argus monitor care sheet.