Savannah Monitors can be found in the arid grasslands of Africa. They are on the smaller side of the monitor family, and are great pets to own if you are looking for something larger than a bearded dragon.
A savannah monitor has the potential to reach over three feet in length. It can take two or three years for a savannah monitor to reach its full size. These monitors are a dusty brown or grey, and do not have a lot of coloration. When properly cared for, savannah monitors can live for 10-15 years.
If you handle your monitor regularly and with respect, you will gain much more joy from this animal. Savannah monitors have a very good reputation of being tame and docile by maturity, and many even enjoy human interaction. Hatchlings may be defensive and nippy, but they will grow out of it.
A large lizard needs a large amount of food. Large feeders like crickets and roaches are good for a healthy diet. Adult monitors can also eat small frozen/thawed mice and chicks so insects donít overrun your household. Healthy options other than insects for adults are whole eggs of chickens. Over feeding of mice and chicks can become a problem because the monitorís diet is not designed to digest large quantities of fat and fur.
Adult monitors need to be fed once or twice a week a combination of insects and larger prey items. Hatchlings will need as many insects as they can eat in 20 minutes every other day. Always remove uneaten food items for the cage because they can become a nuisance, and even dangerous to your monitor.
Dust crickets and roaches with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements for hatchlings every other feeding to keep their bones strong and sturdy. Prey for the adults should get this same dusting weekly.
Enclosures for adult savannah monitors can get quite expensive so you may want to look into making your own. Hatchlings only need a 20-gallon aquarium with a mesh lid until they are 10-12 inches long. Adults will need a floor space of 8íx3í as a minimum, and the more room for them to move around in, the better.
When designing or looking to purchase an enclosure for your monitor, remember that they are large, powerful creatures. It is important that you invest in an extremely secure enclosure so you do not have to deal with an escapee.
In the wild, savannah monitors dig for shelter and for food, so loose substrates like cypress mulch, orchid bark, or a mixture of soil and sand are recommended. The substrate needs to be 8-12 inches deep so digging can occur.
When thinking of shelter for the savannah monitor, think of sturdy things first. Because of their size, they will flip, toss and bury any lightweight object you put in the cage, and plants will be trampled. Simplicity is key for the savannah monitor. Look for some large pieces of wood or stone to act as a shelter on both ends of the enclosure.
Being from Africa, intense heat is required to keep the savannah monitor comfortable. A basking spot of 100-110F on one end of the enclosure is required. Depending on the cage, you might want to provide a basking platform so your monitor can get closer to the bulb. Do not let your monitor touch the bulb however, because it can badly burn him/her.
Another important lighting consideration is the use of UVA/UVB bulbs. In the wild, the sun provides plenty of vitamin D3, but in captivity a UV bulb is required. If your monitor does not get enough UV rays, its growth may be stunted and it may develop bone problems. UV lights need to be replaced every 6 months.
A large water dish is important to keep your monitor hydrated, even if they do originate from the desert. If you provide a water bowl big enough for them to lie in, they will. This water bowl must be very stable so it does not tip when a savannah monitor crawls around it. Many keepers use a shallow dog water bowl to achieve this.
All of the substrate needs to be replaced every 2-3 months, and spot cleaned daily. Clean and wash the entire cage and its content every 6 months. Keep the water bowl full of clean water.
The savannah monitor is extremely difficult to breed without years of experience with this species. If you want to attempt to breed them, do your homework and look into many different resources.
You will need an expert or a veterinarian to sex your monitors, and both the male and female must be over 2 years old before mating. When you are ready for them to mate, introduce them to each other by keeping them in the same cage. Begin to prepare the female for egg laying by feeding her more than normal. Feed her multiple mice a week once they have mated. Add vitamin D3 supplements to all food you give to the female.
One month after mating has occurred, the female will begin digging to lay her eggs. It is best to provide a large box with moist potting soil about a foot deep so you do not have to go hunting for the eggs. When she is ready to lay her eggs, she will lay about 15. The eggs must be removed because they may be crushed by one of the parents, or even eaten.
Once removed from the femaleís enclosure, the eggs need to be incubated. Eggs should be kept in moist vermiculite at temperatures of around 85F until they hatch. Five to six months later you will have a group of hatchling savannah monitors.
Two hatchling monitors can live in a 20-gallon tank until 7 inches long, and live on a diet of appropriately sized crickets and roaches. Hatchlings may often eat twice a day. If they are hungry, feed them. Provide a lot of hiding places and shelter while they are young.
Savannah monitors are one of the largest pet lizards that are docile enough to interact with on a daily basis. Their care is demanding at times, but they definitely pay off. Remember, do your research before buying any pet so that it can live happily and healthily.
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