The emerald tree monitor, or green tree monitor, is a dark jade to lime-green lizard found on New Guinea and adjacent islands. This arboreal reptile uses its long claws and prehensile tail (which is twice as long as its body) to grip tree branches while it scurries across the forest floor.

You can find this turtle-like creature in the rainforests of the island. This monitor’s body is dark green with a yellow-green or olive saddle where the head meets its shell. Both males and females have a black line that runs down the side of their heads, separating their facial scales into black and green halves.

Males also have an orange to red throat patch, while females have a light green to yellow throat patch.

Physical Description


Emerald tree monitors are green because of the different pigments in their scales. They also have a crossbanding pattern that runs down their bodies and can grip onto branches using their long claws and tails.


The Slender Lizard is around 3 feet in total length (91 cm) and with a tail of twice the length of its body.

Native Habitat

Green Tree Monitors have been found in several islands around New Guinea, with their main habitat being rainforests at about 70% relative humidity.

Food/Eating Habits


Lizards eat much more than insects. They also eat frogs, geckos, and smaller mammals and birds. The zoo is home to 115 emerald tree monitors!

Diet - The diet of the larval and juvenile stages of tree monitors consists almost exclusively of small insects, such as beetles, ants, and spiders. Adults typically eat a wide variety of small invertebrates and vertebrates (including frogs). They may also eat carrion or fruit.

Social Structure

This species is one of few that exhibits primitive social behavior. They live in small groups made up of a dominant male, several females, and a few other males and juveniles.

Reproduction and Development


Female green tree monitors typically use termite mounds as nesting chambers. These mounds provide a level of protection that the birds need in order to hatch and raise their young. The mounds also help regulate the mound's temperature so that it is just right for the bird to get pregnant, ensuring the best conditions for incubating eggs.

Female tree monitors typically lay clutches of 3-7 eggs, with an incubation period ranging from 164-165 days. Multiple clutches may sometimes be observed in human care, but this is unusual and not always typical.

At first, babies are so small and fragile. It's really amazing how quickly they grow compared to their parents! Every baby goes through a rapid growth phase called "developmental" until the babies reach about 5 inches long.


They might live a shorter life after all!

Longevity - For most species in the family Dipsadinae, the maximum age is about 15 years. The oldest known tree monitor lived 32 years and was collected in 1879. For most species in the family Dipsadinae, the maximum age is about 15 years. The oldest known tree monitor lived 32 years and was collected in 1879.


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