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Keeping a Savannah Monitor Lizard as a Pet

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The Savannah Monitor Lizard, which is best known in Europe as the Bosc’s Monitor, is a native of Central Africa. This highly skilled predator is found mostly in the savannah grasslands of Senegal, Ghana, Northern Zaire, Togo and Eritrea. It is a predator, which hunts rodents, birds, eggs, insects and other reptiles for food.

In the past, great numbers of Savannah monitors were shipped to Europe and United States. However, most did not survive due to starvation and dehydration. To address properly this ugly scenario, a decision was made to conserve these creatures in their place of origin. Savannah Monitors are kept and bred in their native land, and the result is beautiful, healthy baby lizards for interested exotic pet owners.

Bosc's Monitor aka Savannah Monitor Lizard
Credit: Sylfred 1977, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Varanus_exanthematicus_18082009.jpg

What Does a Savannah Monitor Lizard Look Like?

In the wild, the Savannah Monitor Lizard can weigh from eleven to twelve pounds (five to five and a half kilograms), and it can grow up to three to five feet long. Monitors have a very long, sharp claw on their front legs for digging and longer hind legs, which are perfect for running.

They can turn their heads in all directions, have snake-like blue tongues, and can expand their mouths like a snake to swallow bigger prey. The Savannah Monitor’s body is grey to brown. Both male and female have a brown and yellow ring on their tails, but the females have longer tails than the males have. There are large scales on the abdominal area and smaller ones on the head. Monitors live at an average of 10 to 20 years when cared for properly.

Housing the Bosc's Monitor

Your Savannah Monitor must have adequate housing for its comfort, safety and survival. A 20 to 30 gallon terrarium provides suitable living quarters for a single lizard or a pair of hatchlings in the first few months of their life.

However, as they grow and mature, a larger enclosure is necessary. House one adult in a six by two-foot enclosure, but a pair needs a six by four-foot space for housing. Do not use mesh screens as the Savannah’s ultra sharp claws can tear them without any difficulty. Secure the cage, terrarium, glass or plastic enclosure to ensure their safety and prevent them from escaping. Keep in mind that these are wild, exotic animals—not domesticated, tame pets like dogs and cats—and they may not want to be handled excessively.

Another important factor is their environment. Since they originally came from Africa, which has a hot and dry climate, keep them in an environment where the day’s heat ranges from 85 to 90 degrees, while nighttime temperatures should range from 75 to 85 degrees.

Hand Feeding Your Savannah Monitor

What to Feed Your Bosc's Monitor

Feeding a Savannah Monitor Lizard the proper amount is critical because they tend to become obese if they over-eat or are over-fed. Being obese can lead to serious health problems. Young monitors can be given live insects or pre-killed rodents. Adults, however, can eat small rats or mice. 

Do not feed them pet foods which have an extremely high fat content to keep their weight within a healthy range. Furnish them with lots of fresh, clean water and be diligent about keeping the water dish clean and sanitized.

Now that you have the facts, you are better prepared to decide whether to get a Savannah Monitor for a pet. Rules and regulations about exotic pets vary from state to state and municipality to municipality so be sure to do your due diligence before you purchase your Bosc's Monitor. 

You may also want to search online or inquire at your local animal shelter to see if anyone has given up or abandoned a Savannah Monitor lizard. You just might be able to save a life by rescuing an unwanted lizard.





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  1. Undisclosed "Savannah Monitor Lizard." Honolulu Zoo. 13/12/2011 <Web >
  2. Stiebritz, Matthew "Savannah Monitor Lizard." Lizards. 13/12/2011 <Web >

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