On a recent visit to Londolozi we noticed a pair of monitor lizards mating near a hole on a bank of the sandy shoreline. The males position alternated from a side on, leg over position, to a more male right on top of female position. He seemed to use his back legs and claws to re-position the female beneath him as well as changing their orientation, sometimes facing toward the hole in the bank and then slowly moving so that they faced towards the water.
The following morning we visited the dam at around 10:00, The same male from the previous day was following the same female along the sandy shoreline. I identified both of them from their skin patterns. He would approach the female from behind and just when he got reasonably close she would move forward and then stop again. At times she was moving straight and then she would turn around in a fairly loose turn. The male followed her trail. He did not take short cuts to cut her off. It appeared that he was choosing to follow a pheromone trail rather than a visual one. Once again there was vigorous tongue flicking and at regular intervals he would rapidly shake his head form side to side. All three of us on the game viewing vehicle interpreted this rapid head shaking as a physical reaction to the smell of pheromones.
Once again other male monitors (assumed) approached the couple, but on seeing the large male they backed off. After around 30 minutes (this following was going on when we arrived, so it may have been much longer) the large male seemed to give up and wandered off past one of the crocodiles. The female now moved to the waters edge and drank.
A few days later I visited a friend at another lodge in the area and they also mentioned that they had seen monitors mating at a different dam on the previous day. They did not spend much time with these monitors and did not have anything to add besides that they were mating.
Although this is merely an account of what I saw whilst at Londolozi, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the behaviour of these monitor lizards and what you make of the dynamic between the different monitor lizards. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below…
Written and Photographed by: Ian Thomas