Minimum requirements for an adult SAVANNAH (Bosc's) MONITOR
Minimum requirements for an adult DWARF SPINY TAIL MONITOR.
For minimum tank sizes on other related monitors please speak to a respected dealer.
All heating should be positioned at same end of the vivarium, creating a hot basking end. The opposite end should have no heating, creating a cool end. Place your thermostat sensor and/or thermometer in the middle of you vivarium on the substrate. At this point in your vivarium the thermometer should read 84°F/29°C, give or take a couple of degrees Fahrenheit. It is very important you guard any and all heating. It is equally important you have a good 20cm gap between your Monitor and the heating element. It has been known for Monitors to sit under their heating and burn themselves for a number of reasons. In most cases Monitors do not require a night time drop in temperature; doing so may cause failure to digest large meals, causing illness.
UV lighting is essential for 12-14 hours a day. The UV tube should start against the wall at the hot end and span 2/3 the length of the enclosure thus creating a UV gradient much like your heating. It is best to position your UV tube with a reflector, 6-9 inches from the ceiling of a 2ft high vivarium. Only the Arcadia brand tubes mentioned in this care sheet can be positioned on the ceiling of a 2ft high vivarium with a reflector. However a word of warning. Reptiles have adapted to living with strong UV radiation from above. Placing the UV tube level or within 45 degrees of the eye could damage it severely (photokeratoconjunctivitis or cataracts) symptoms include swelling of the eye and area around it or cloudy eye/s. This is thankfully not too common but it is better to be safe and not allow your animal to sit alongside or within a few inches of your tube.
Always remember to replace your UV tube every 6 months unless the manufacturer suggests otherwise. The tube’s UV producing capability will degrade though the tube will show no obvious sign. As far as we can tell only the Arcadia D3+ and T5 range last 12 months and give a virtually guaranteed 12% UV for the duration of that time. Failure to give your new monitor the proper levels and quality of UV could result in irreversible Metabolic Bone Disorder.
Never place your vivarium near radiators, direct sunlight, drafts, busy areas or appliances that create a lot of noise. This could affect your animals feeding or make them quite aggressive. At very least it will cause stress.
Substrate choice is a difficult one, a good quality orchid bark or beech chip is recommended depending on the environment where your chosen Monitor comes from. Do not use desert sand, gravel or peat as substrates. It can cause digestive or shedding problems.
There is however a few clay based or peat based sand now available which can be used with relative success. If unsure contact us or an expert.
Spot clean your vivarium regularly, if done properly a full vivarium clean should only be necessary once a month. Only use disinfectants specifically designed for reptiles. Soaps, detergents and other disinfectants can be toxic.
Always provide your monitor with clean fresh drinking water; tap water is fine, although there are water treatments available if you are in doubt about your water quality. A small bowl should be suitable for animals from dry regions. Monitors from wetter more humid environments require larger bowls for drinking and bathing. Never allow your vivarium to remain overly humid. All monitors (even those from humid environments) require good ventilation to prevent bacterial lung infections and skin infections. It is far better to give your animal and option of high humidity, I.e. a large deep filled litter tray of peat and moss, with Cork and foliage built up around it. This gives them a large natural area of high humidity to use when they wish, much like a moss box used for animals with shedding problems.
A lot of monitors are very good climbers and diggers. Whatever you put in the vivarium make sure it is securely fixed in place. This could prevent crushing from dug out foundations and falling branches from above. Always get all your tank furniture from a recognized dealer.
Many different feeding routines and diets have been used with varying levels of success the best suited to this set-up will be explained below. However, watch your animal’s weight carefully and adjust the routine accordingly. Monitors require a mixture (70%-30%) of insects and defrosted rodents. Feed your monitor roughly 3 meals a week. The best insects to use are locusts. Anything smaller and it would be very unlikely your monitor would bother to chase and consume. Unless it is still a small juvenile.
The best way to judge what quantity of insects constitutes as a meal is to drop into the vivarium a limited amount, say half a dozen locusts. If your animal is hungry it will eat immediately, if it does; continue to put a couple of insect in every time it finishes. Stop when your monitor appears full and stops chasing its food.
Monitors are very keen meat eaters and will generally eat as much as they can fit in their bodies and some times more. Like with the insects it is very difficult to judge how much food an individual should eat. But 3-4 defrosted rodents roughly between 50% and 75% the size of your monitor head should be about right for a meal.
Savannah monitors will also eat so much that they fill their stomachs with food. Then continue to feed, packing food end to end down their esophagus. Try to avoid this happening. Many of the large bodied monitors like Savannahs, Niles and Waters eat vast quantities of food if it is offered to them. While they are very young this is not such a problem. But when they are older they normally become very inactive and have a tendency to become overweight. Always remember to keep your monitor fit and keen for food. If you think it might be getting overweight, don’t be afraid to cut down the quantity of food you give it. Even better try making it exercise for its food.
A good quality vitamin and mineral is very important to the well-being of your animal, always read the packaging carefully. Failure to maintain a good supply of vitamins and minerals will result in irreversible illness, such as Metabolic Bone Disorder.
Do not handle your Monitor immediately after a move; leave at least four weeks to allow your animal to settle. If you don’t, one of two things will happen 1. Your animal may become defensive and aggressive. 2. Your animal may become reclusive and fail to feed properly. After the initial four weeks handling may begin slowly. Many Monitors are not naturally friendly; they are in fact quite shy animals that get very scared when backed into a corner. Quite often Monitors are overly keen for food and will sometimes attempt to eat anything that moves, including hands! Always approach Monitors with caution, never get complacent, no matter how friendly your monitor may be. Try to always approach your monitor with confidence. Always handle your Monitor near to a surface, accidents can happen and Monitors don’t fly! Always use common sense when handling large and potentially dangerous animals. Always ask a respected dealer to show you the safest way to handle your selected species of Monitor. Finally if you are in any doubt as to whether you can deal with your selected specie of Monitor. Play it safe. Buy a smaller specie of Monitor or another type of reptile that is a little easier to keep and learn the ropes first.
When it comes to your animals health, if you are ever in doubt ask a respected dealer for they’re advice, and if still in doubt go to a specialist veterinarian. There are a few simple things to look out for.
Avoid putting your Monitor in with any other animals. They are very territorial and will see all other animals as potential food. Some Monitors will live with each other if the correct sex ratios are followed. If purchasing a second Monitor, make they are of compatible size and get equal amounts of food to ensure the same rate of growth. Ask a respected dealer for information.
On a final note and to summarize, Monitor lizards are fascinating and very rewarding animals to keep and care for. A few things to remember; There are very few homes in this country for large lizards, so it could prove very difficult to give up if you don’t get along or run out of space. Some monitors get extremely large and you must remember all the dangers that go with keeping one of these impressive animals. Think before you buy, do your research and it could turn out to be one of the best pets you ever buy.