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Monitor Lizards as Pets

It may sound very exotic getting home monitor lizards as pets, but there are plenty of care and precaution requirements that need to be taken care of. So before you invest in monitor lizards, make sure you go through the following article and then decide whether this is the right pet for you...
Monitor lizards, one of the oldest living species of lizards, are found in different parts of the world like Africa, India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Philippines and Australia. Yes, you are right they love a hot and humid habit to survive. These lizard belong the genus Varanus. This is an Arabic word that means 'monitor'. They share this genus with its cousin, the largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon and the crocodile monitor. Monitor lizards make up a large share of the reptilian pet trade. However, monitor lizards are not easy to keep.

People generally think monitor lizards will never overgrow their small cages. They are only fed with crickets and kept at room temperature. And they are believed to be tame and docile animals. This is far from true and these lizards are very aggressive and difficult to tame as they grow big. There are many species of monitor lizards that grow really large. They have really long, sharp claws and jaws so strong that once they bite into something, it is very difficult to make them let go their grip. Monitor lizards are carnivores and therefore very important to keep small pets and children away from them. They are aggressive and might bite or even kill a small pet. Mostly the small species like Savannah monitor, white throated monitor and the Acklin's monitor are kept as pets. If you are ready to spend a lot of money on monitor lizard care as well as diet, then think about getting them home. Also, you need to have plenty of space for these creatures. Let us have a look at the following monitor lizard care sheet and understand the basic requirements of keeping monitor lizards as pets.

Care Sheet
Mostly, it is the Savannah monitor lizards kept as pets. This is because they are easily available in the pet market and grow only about 3 to 4 feet in length. But, do not be dazed by their size as they still require a lot of space to live. Another plus point about Savannah monitor lizard as pets is that they tend to become reasonably tame as compared to the other monitor lizards. They are not a good choice for a beginner as they are fairly large and very intelligent. Their intelligence helps them learn the art of escape and even find ways to break open their enclosures. Let us go through the monitor lizard care sheet, keeping the Savannah monitor lizards, also called the cape monitors, in mind.

Care
Monitor lizards need to be kept in a really large and fully secure enclosure. You can bring home a 55 gallon tank for a juvenile monitor. However, they will quickly overgrow it and you will need to get a minimum 8 feet by 4 feet wide tank or enclosure. Do not get cages with screens as the monitor lizard will shred it to pieces. The enclosures need to be built of solid material as it will help maintain the temperatures and keep the lizards inside. Use a substrate for the enclosure like brown butcher paper. This is because you will need to clean the tank a lot as they urinate and defecate a lot. The temperature should be about 80 to 86º F and the high-end should be maintained at 95ºF. This high-end temperature will serve as basking temperature. At nights, the temperature should drop considerably to match their natural habitat. You can place a UV lamp in the enclosure as it will help build their strong bones. Place a large dish containing water for them to soak in it. Their leisure baths will turn tedious for you as the water will need to be changed all the time.

Diet
Monitor lizard diet consists of any prey that they can bring down. This includes insects, mice, rats, eggs, garden pets, etc. They eat a lot and are prone to obesity. You can feed your monitor lizard with pre-killed rodents and a lot of insects. You can even feed them fresh boiled eggs, earthworms, feeder goldfish and silkworms.

Facts
  • Monitor lizards can be very hostile and lash out their tales when angry. This may cause a stinging injury on the skin.
  • Monitor lizards have a very high metabolic rate compared to other reptiles.
  • Monitor lizards hunt down live prey using their sensory adaptations.
  • Some monitor lizards can undergo parthenogenesis, that is, produce unfertilized eggs.
  • Monitor lizards are very intelligent and can even count numbers up to 6.
  • Many think of monitor lizards similar to cats. This is because they are independent creatures with a distinct personality.
  • Do not keep a monitor lizard unsupervised around small children as they are capable of biting.
This was all about monitor lizard care sheet. You can refer different books and material available on the Internet to understand these creatures. Many people bring home these exotic pets without knowing much about these creatures. It is therefore important you are mentally and physically prepared to understand the monitor lizard care requirements. Hope this information helps you understand these creatures before you bring one home.
By Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Published: 1/13/2011
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