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Savannah Monitor Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for Monitors

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.00    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 06/16/2009

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Years Experience:

3 to 5 Years


Savannah Monitor

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

This guide primarily focuses on the Savannah Monitor, and generally you should read this if you have one as a baby or are experiencing problems with an adult.

Sexing and Characteristics:

Males generally have a smaller, more stockier head appearance, while the females have a longer, more slender head. They also may have two distinctive bumps at the base of their tail, but sometimes females may have slight ones as well. Also males generally have larger bumps on their nose used as salt glands.
Females may be overall slightly smaller then the males.

Mostly Active During:


Substrate and Water Needs:

For some reason, people like to think that ’Savannah’ means dry and desert, but this is absolutely untrue.
Savannah Monitors like their humidity. This can usually be set by just misting with a water bottle from a grocery store once or twice a day, and keeping a water bowl in there.
Note that the water dish should be large enough to accommodate your monitors entire body, as some of them may like to soak, and almost all of them will learn to defecate in there.
They do this based on observing your behavior of cleaning and refilling the dish, knowing it’s cleaner and also because the water helps move their digestive system.
The water dish will need to be cleaned daily, as some monitors (particularly the younger ones) will drink out of it.

When choosing a substrate for your new monitor, bare in mind that they are very curious creatures, and enjoy digging and burrowing underground certain periods of the day, and this should also hold moisture to keep the humidity at a normal range.
A mixture of sand and topsoil works very well. Just be careful you don’t have too much sand, since a lot of babies have been known to die from impaction of it.
Mulch works well too, especially if it is mixed with topsoil.
Regardless of what you use as bedding, be sure that it is clean, and free of pesticides and chemicals.

Lighting and UVB:

A UV light is crucial for absorption of calcium from their diet. You can turn this light off at night, just as long as they get at least 12 hours of it. Especially after eating, your Monitor may be seen basking afterwords. This is because they need the vitamin D from the sunlight to help the calcium into their system and avoid complications and sickness.

Temperatures and Humidity:

Savannah Monitors prefer slightly higher temperatures, the hot side of the tank getting up to 110 degrees with a rock underneath this for your monitor to bask on.
Another great way to warm up the tank would be an under tank heater. Usually they will locate this quite quickly, and lay out on the ground comfortably.
The cool side of the tank should be somewhere around 70 or 80 degrees, with water readily available.

Nighttime temperatures are allowed to fall to room temperature, just as long as this does not go below 60 degrees.

You do not need to keep their tank at high humidity all the time. Just keep in mind that Savannah Monitors are generally more dormant and less active in the dryer season.
However, it is a good idea to keep their humidity at levels around 40% when possible, and you can do this by misting, and by keeping the substrate wet and moist.

Heating and Equipment:

You’re really all set to go if you have a UVB light that stretches along the entire length of the tank, one 100 watt heating bulb, or one of these and an under tank heating device, a temperature gage at each end of the tank (one for the hot side, and one for the cool side) and a barometer to keep the humidity levels in check.

Caging Provided:

Because Savannah Monitors are becoming more popular in reptile trade, and therefore a lot cheaper, many people buy them without any regards to their size.
While they are small, cute and fun as little babies, a Savannah Monitor can live up to 20 years, and will not ’grow to the size of the tank’, he will grow until he’s anywhere between 2 and 4 and a half feet long. With the record largest one being 5.1 feet.

You can start with a smaller tank, but be aware that you will need to get bigger tanks, and even build bigger tanks for when he gets larger.
An average tank size for a Savannah Monitor is 4 feet by 8 feet.
Wire cages do not hold moisture, humidity or temperature well, so keep your location in mind.
The best siding to use would be plexiglass.



Description of Diet:

Savannah Monitors are prone to obesity.
They will keep eating as long as there is food in front of them, so you need to be careful and keep a close eye on his weight and size, and adjust his diet as needed.

As babies, you should start by giving them around 7 crickets a day (small)
Monitors are not like snakes, and must be fed everyday.

As they grow, you can start introducing new insects and things, such as mealworms, egg, pinky mice, and gold fish.

Be careful with rodents though. A monitor’s diet should consist of 60% insects, and 40% rodents.

Rodents are fattening, and should be given to your monitor once a month, and about 3 or 4 at a time.
Frozen mice work best, as live ones may injure or hurt your monitor in fighting back.

Hard boiled, or sometimes raw egg may be given to your monitor. the yolk is the most fattening part, and should be omitted from his diet if you give him egg more then a few times per month. The shell of the egg is edible, and provides a great source of calcium for a growing Monitor.

NEVER feed your Monitor wet cat or dog food, or any other canned foods. These are very fattening and should be avoided.

Some people are wary of the temperament of these animals, and instead feed their Monitor in a separate tank.
It may be a good idea if your Monitor is more aggressive, or has a strong feeding response, but is not required.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

Calcium must be added and present in your Monitor’s diet.
If you feed him crickets, visit your local pet supply store, and see if you can find a calcium fortified cricket quencher. Your Monitor will get calcium in this way through the cricket’s diet.

If you use powder, dust the crickets in this only once a week by shaking them in a bag with the powder until they are substantially covered before dropping them into his tank.

Some Monitors do not like crickets dusted in powder, and if this is the case with you’re, do not panic, instead just try dusting cut up egg whites of a hard-boiled egg, and feed him this once a week.

Egg shells also provide a good amount of calcium.


It is best to buy a Monitor while it is still very young.
These animals need to be handled regularly, and often. it prevents them from becoming aggressive and it also feeds their natural curiosity.
They may not like being held so much as they prefer being down and walking around checking everything out.
A harness and leash is a great way to let your Monitor look around, while you still have enough control over him to keep him from getting into trouble.
If for some reason your Monitor hisses when you go to pet, or pick him up out of his cage, respect him, and give him some time alone.
Be careful when letting your Monitor interact with other lizards, because they have been known to attack, or eat anything smaller than them.

Savannah Monitors may also be given a bath once a week. Fill your bathtub with warm water until it is deep enough for his back legs to float, but shallow enough for him to touch the ground, and let him soak and swim around in there for about a half hour.
This is a great form of exercise, and may also help your monitor shed.

Some Words on this Species:

Overall, Savannah Monitors are generally pretty easy to care for, and a great choice if you are just beginning with caring for reptiles.
If handled enough as babies, and allowed to look around and feel safe with you, you will find a great pet that is almost puppy-dog tame, and just a joy to have around.
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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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