We present data from gut content analyses of Varanus albigularis (savanna monitor) and V. niloticus (water monitor) in South Africa. Both species are generalist, opportunistic feeders. We did not detect any sex-based differences in the diet of V. albigularis, and there were relatively high levels of dietary overlap between the species, although there were significant differences for certain prey types. These differences match differences in habitat use between the species: the more aquatic V. niloticus consumed aquatic prey, such as amphibians and crabs, more often than did V. albigularis. Varanus albigularis included more terrestrial prey such as diplopods in its diet. Tortoises and millipedes were also prominent in the V. albigularis diet, constituting an important component of dietary intake. Few of our samples from V. albigularis had empty stomachs, suggesting that this species may occupy a lower trophic level than its Australian counterparts. Although there is a large degree of overlap in the diets of the two species, there is a trend for V. albigularis to eat more slow-moving prey. These differences result in the species foraging at different trophic levels.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1