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Dumerilís Monitor (V. dumerilii) Care Sheets
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3 to 5 Years


Dumerilís Monitor (V. dumerilii)

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Varanus Dumerilii
Dumerilís Monitor Lizard
Brown Roughneck Monitor

By Ben Aller & Michaela Manago

Care Sheet

Brief Natural History-
V. Dumerilii is known from coastal mangroves and inland forests in Thailand, Burma, Malayan Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra as well as other smaller islands in Southeast Asia. Dumerilís are considered to be terrestrial-arboreal-aquatic, meaning they forage below the ground, in the trees, and in the water. Down time for these monitors are often spent in tree hollows and rock crevices. Dumerilís are very active climbers and diggers and will spend a considerable amounts of time submerged in water.

The largest account of V. Dumerilii in the wild is said to be 50 cm SVL (1.6 Feet) and 75 cm (2.5 feet) tail length (TL 4.2 feet). The adult Dumerilís we keep in captivity are about 1 meter TL (3.3 feet) and weigh about 1.3 to 2 kg (2.9 to 4.4 lbs). Males tend to be just over 1.2 meters (4 ft) and tend to be larger than females who max out to just under 1 meter (3.3 feet). The hatchlings we have bred in captivity range from 7 to 18 g and measure to be 80 to 92 mm (3.1 to 3.6 inches) SVL at day of hatching.

Hatchlings can be kept in 20-40 gal long aquariums for the first 4-6 months, after this they will require larger set-ups. Mixed soil (topsoil, potting mix, sand) topped with dry leaves and/or sphagnum moss (green moss) should be used for substrate. Substrates must be kept moist/damp. A Rubbermaid tub or box, with a hole in the lid or side of the box, which contains mud and moss, should be added for additional moisture. Thermal gradients should be provided and secure hide spots on both the ďcoolĒ and ďhotĒ sides of the enclosure are mandatory. Large water dishes are also required. If your monitor is still small try putting a rock in the water dish to help him/her to get in and out.
If using an aquarium it is best to restrict air flow by covering part of the screen top. This will help hold humidity. Heat pads and lights can be used to heat hatchlings, which will bask at very high temps (over 100 degrees F). An ambient gradient should be between 75-90 F with basking spots reaching up to 130 F (these temperatures are ideal for Dumerilís at all life stages).

Sub-adults & Adults
Housing for sub-adults should not be open topped (no aquariums) and should have ample room for digging, 12-18 inches. 2 ft deep by 6ft long by at least 3 ft tall is a good size enclosure for housing sub-adult Dumerilís. Provide a water dish that is large enough for them to submerge their entire body (as large as you can realistically go).
Adults require at least 4ft by 8ft of floor space and will appreciate and use as much height as possible. Adding wood lattice to the sides of your enclosures (any size) will greatly increase the usable space for your monitor(s). Dumerilís love to climb and dig so make sure you provide ample opportunities for them to do both. Dumerilís will bask at very high temps, well over 100 degrees F. Over-head lights provide the best heat sources. Try using lots of smaller wattage bulbs to spread out the basking spot. As one or two higher wattage bulbs can over-heat a small area causing burns. Dumerilís require high basking temps (90 to 130 degrees F) and warm ambient temps (70 to 90 degrees F). We generally allow temperatures in our enclosures to drop about 10 degrees F at night, never below 65 F. Providing heat at night while providing a photoperiod can be achieved by using night lights or heat pads/pig blankets.
One of the most important factors for housing Dumerilís is humidity. Try keeping humidity levels between 50-70% at all times, as these monitors will dry out quickly. The ďmoss boxĒ and a large water container will help you achieve sufficient humidity. Dumerilís defecate in the water frequently so make sure the water is easy to clean.

One of the reasons Dumerilís are so fun and hearty in captivity is their ability to thrive on a variety of prey items. In the wild Dumerilís are ďspecialized crab-eatersĒ with mangrove crabs being available in large numbers year-round. In captivity we feed and recommend a diet of mostly shellfish. Shellfish (crab, crawfish, whole-bodied [head-on] shrimp, etc.) are easy to obtain and very economically feasible. We feed a staple of crawfish 4 to 5 times per week. These ďwater-bugsĒ are cheap (about $4/lb.) and the monitors adore them. We buy large lots, 10-40 lbs. and simply freeze them whole and thaw in cool water when needed. They thaw quickly, 10-15 minutes at most. Our Dumerilís eat everyday from the time they start eating (about 3 wks. after hatching) to adulthood. We feed whole-bodied (head-on) fresh water and sea shrimp 2-3 times per week. These are purchased from Asian markets and are very economical (about $18/4lbs.) and also thaw quickly. (There is a sharp protrusion on the head of the shrimp that we remove to avoid possible injuries, most likely due to paranoia on our part.) Mice are offered about once per week. All of our Dumerilís love mice, but when fed a diet consisting mostly of mice we have had very poor results, such as obesity and lethargy. We do not recommend feeding rodent-based diet to these monitors. Feeding rodents occasionally is fine, but in our experience they fail to thrive when fed primarily rodents. Also we feed relatively small mice, even to our largest Dumerilís. Adults are also offered large roaches occasionally.

We start the hatchlings on crickets, roaches, shrimp, and crawfish. We feed our baby Dumerilís everyday just like the adults, but we cut up the shrimp and crawfish into small pieces and serve on a plate. Along with insects they readily accept thawed food. Hatchlings will generally begin to accept pinkie mice at about 6 wks old. At this time you can slowly introduce tong-feeding. We have had success feeding off tongs as young as one month old, but do not be discouraged if this is not the case for you. In our experience all Dumerilís with a little time and patience will accept a variety of prey items and will conveniently feed off tongs.

Suggested Reading

Bayless, Mark & Aller, Ben. Dumerilís Monitor Lizards. REPTILES. Pg. 42-47, March, 2004.

Bennet, Daniel. MONITOR LIZARDS, Natural history, biology & husbandry. Warlich Druck, Meckenheim, Germany, 1998.

Fost, Michael. Taxon Management Account, Dumerilís Monitors (Varanus Dumerilii). Zoo Atlanta, 1996.

King, Dennis & Green, Brian. MONITORS, The Biology of Varanid Lizards. Kreiger Publishling Company, 1993.

Pianka, King, & King. VARANOID LIZARDS OF THE WORLD. Indiana University Press, 2004.

Sprackland, Robert George. Dumerilís Monitor Lizards. REPTILES. Pg. 56-69, November, 1995
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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