Wildlife of Pakistan


Monitor Lizard



PHOTO CREDIT: Sind Wildlife Department


Local name: Goa (Urdu)

Description and Biology:

Monitor, or goannas, common name for a genus of lizards that includes the largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon. There are about 30 species in the genus, ranging from 20 cm to more than 3 m (8 in to 10 ft) long. They are characterized by a long, forked, snakelike tongue, and are able to engulf and swallow large prey whole. They are sleek, fast runners with tapered heads, long necks, strong legs, and long, powerful tails. Monitors feed on insects, birds, reptiles and their eggs, small mammals, and carrion.

Monitors are among the oldest living lizards. They are related to the mosasaur, a marine lizard that lived from136 million to 65 million years ago and ranged up to 10 m (33 ft) long. The largest monitor is the 135-kg (300-lb) Komodo dragon. It lives on several islands, including Komodo, in Indonesia. This lizard is a fierce predator and scavenger; its mouth carries a virulent bacteria, and its bite alone can be fatal. Although monitors are mainly terrestrial, some species also climb trees and are good swimmers. The large water monitor of East India can swim far from land.

Habitat and Distribution:

Three subspecies of Monitor lizards are found in Pakistan. The monitor lizard is an inhabitant of agricultural as well as desert Ecozones in Pakistan. Monitors are quiet common in the province of Sind and Baluchistan. the best place to see them is in Cholistan desert and Thar desert where the desert species of Monitor is found.

Mointor are not threatened with extinction in Pakistan, but they are still hunted for their eggs and for their meat in parts of Sind. Local Hakims (makers of traditional medicine) capture these lizards for their oil, which is alledged to have medicinal properties.




Spiny Tailed Lizard

(Uromastix Harwichii)


PHOTO CREDIT: Ken felsman


Local name: Sandha (Urdu)

Habitat and Distribution:

This lizard is a desert dwelling species. It is found in the deserts of Sind, Punjab and Baluchistan. It is trapped in large numbers by Hakims to extract its oil which they believe has medicinal properties.



Leopard Gecko

(Eublepharis Macularius)


PHOTO CREDIT: Robbie Hamper


Description and Biology:

Leopard Geckos reach a size of 8 to 10 inches. Most adults are yellow with dark brown spots. Juveniles are generally are banded yellow and dark brown which fades into the spotted pattern as the gecko matures.

The males seems to have a broader head and neck than the female and the bodies are somewhat larger. However, looking at the undersides, adult males have a prominent V-shaped row of pre-anal pores while the pre-anal pores of the female are barely noticeable. Adult males also have hemipenile swellings and a wider tail base. The sex of the leopard gecko seems to be determined by the temperature at incubation. Eggs incubated between 79-83 are generally female, 84-86 are about half of each sex, and above 87 are usually male.

Unlike other geckos, the leopard gecko and his relatives have moveable eyelids and lack the toe pads which allow other geckos to climb vertical surfaces.

Habitat and Distribution:

Leopard geckos are gentle, hardy and long-lived reptiles. They make great education animals because they seldom attempt to bite. Leopard geckos are more terrestrial than geckos with adhesive toes. The small size and short limbs of the leopard gecko help it to hide in rock crevices and under dry scrub.

In Pakistan the Leopard Gecko is found in all the four provinces. This species is under great demand by wildlife importers and exporters for selling them as pets.


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