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Thread: Varanid Lizard Care Sheet

  1. #1
    Valued Contributor
    Join Date
    Dec 2016

    Varanid Lizard Care Sheet

    There are over 70 different species of monitor lizards, ranging in size from my Ackie (22 inches);

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    To the 200 Lb. Komodo Dragon!

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    Here is a list of some of the more common types found as pets. The list is not all-inclusive and other species are probably available.

    1. Dumeril’s Monitor
    2. Mangrove Monitor
    3. Nile Monitor
    4. Ornate Monitor
    5. Ridge-Tailed or "Ackie" Monitor
    6. Savanna Monitor
    7. Tree Monitors


    For a large monitor, such as a Nile Monitor

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    The cage should be at least 8′ x 3′ x 6′. Always go with the biggest cage possible. On the other end of the spectrum for Ackie Monitors.

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    I would recommend a minimum 48” x 16” x 16” or larger. Remember if you ever question the size of your cage bigger is always better with monitor species. Decor of course will depend on the type of Monitor you choose, for instance if you got a water monitor you would need an appropriately sized pool . If you got a tree monitor you would need branches and shelves for climbing and basking. Many people suggest giving Ackies 3 ft. of substrate because they like to dig and burrow.

    Heating and lighting

    They should be provided with a basking zone of around 120 degrees with the cooler side getting no lower than 65 degrees and no warmer than 80 degrees. This is critical since all reptiles are cold blooded and need to regulate their body temperatures by the temperatures of their environment. The best way to do this is by giving them as many areas of different temperatures as possible. Also since Monitors are basking lizards they need UVB to make Vitamin D3 which helps with the absorption of Calcium, and if not given this it may lead to Metabolic Bone Disease(MBD). I know this issue has been debated, but looking at the natural environment any logical person would soon realize sunlight, or another UV source is a necessity!

    Food / Nutrition

    Monitors are opportunistic carnivores meaning they eat whatever animals and insects are available. Insects, Live crickets, meal worms, wax worms, cockroaches, and grasshoppers are a good source of protein and other nutrients for your monitor. Be sure to gut-load the insects before feeding them to your pet. There is also commercial monitor food that you can buy at pet shops. The commercial food is soft bite-sized pieces of high protein food supplemented with calcium and other nutrients. Mice are available as tiny pinkies, adults, and all sizes in between. When possible, you should feed your monitor mice that have been pre-killed. It is safer for your pet. Frozen mice are another way to supply your monitor with food. Several months worth of food can take up very little space in a freezer. Thaw frozen mice before feeding them to your monitor. I like to prepare my own food, I think it is easier to keep track of what and how much they are eating .

    Water and Humidity

    I will tell you what I do for my Ackie it will obviously be different for other Monitor species, or different climates. To keep Ackies hydrated keep a water bowl that is large enough for it to soak in, so that it has the option to do so. Misting the cage a few times a day will help keep the humidity levels up and aid in proper shedding and hydration. I also try to soak him at least once a week! This is what I do, different locations may require different methods.


    I use orchid bark, but this is just my choice. The biggest thing here is do NOT use SAND to avoid "impaction" issues! If you can't find it, "Reptibark" sold at most pet stores is the same thing. Cocoa Core / fiber is also a good substrate.

    Handling your Monitor

    This will also be different for the many species, but a good rule of thumb might be; Always be sure to read your monitor's behavior! If it hides and does not move for days on end after being handled, decrease handling time and frequency. My Runt has enjoyed handling since I got him but every reptile is an individual! Firmness and confidence are alway's required when handling Monitors.
    Last edited by Slick; 31-07-17 at 21:39.

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