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5 Care Tips for Savannah Monitor

Learn five tips for how to take care of a Savannah monitor from reptile and amphibian expert Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.


When it comes to pet lizards, oftentimes people are interested in monitor lizards. The whole family of monitors predominantly are large meat eaters. And one that is very, very popular is the Savannah monitor. Here I have just a couple of babies newly hatched that are in the insect eating stage, but very quickly they move on to any kind of meat.

These are animals that will easily take a mouse or a rat, but they're also fond of table scraps, cat food, dog food, making them really easy to take care of. If there is a problem with them in captivity is that they're such voracious eaters that people love to watch them eat, they get overfed. Like most reptiles they have a very slow metabolism and don't need as much food as we do. Snakes, for example, could eat only once a week and they're fine, they're not like mammals like us that eat three to six times day.

So, people tends to put too much food in front of Savannah's monitors, and oftentimes I'll see adult animals that are truly obese, which usually is not good for the long-term health of the animal.

But they are one of the more popular monitors in that they become very, very docile very quickly. With handling, they realize that you are not a threat to them, and they don't therefore bite when being picked up like some other lizards do. They get tremendous size though, very, very heavy, and up to 5 feet maximum from tip of the nose to tip of the tail. So, there is definitely a "Wow, I got a pet dinosaur," factor to owning a Savannah monitor. You've just got to be prepared for the amount of food it's going to eat, and the enclosure size it's going to need.

There are very few fish tanks commercially on the market that are going to house an adult Savannah monitor, you're going to have to probably build something yourself in order to keep this animal happy. They like to be above ground and bask and forage, but like many big bodied lizards, they like to go underneath the ground to cool off, so they can thermoregulate their body temperature.

But they do make great long term captives. They can live upwards of 20, 25 years, and again, it's the girth and the size of them that's the attraction to people to get a Savannah monitor.

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