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Article Archive

    Savannah Monitor

    Savannah Monitor
    • Diet
    • Housing
    • Heating & Lighting Requirements
    • Handling
    • Helpful Hints
    • Origin: Africa, S. of the Sahara
    • Habitat: Open woodland to semi-desert
    • Average Size: 3'-5'
    • Lifespan: 12-17 years


    Diet
    Insects such as cockroaches, crickets, earthworms, mealworms and grasshoppers make up the bulk of the diet. Rodents, canned monitor food and chicken may also be fed. It is important to feed a variety of food items with insects as the main food. Rodents may be fed as an occasional food item but some monitors will have difficulty digesting fur. Young savannahs should be fed daily – juveniles and adults about 3 times a week. Vitamin supplements should be given twice a week. Always provide fresh water and change the water daily as monitors will use their water bowl as a litter pan.

    If you decide to offer thawed frozen food, be certain the food is completely thawed. Cold blooded reptiles can go into shock from the cold temperature of the partially frozen food item.

    Habitat
    When choosing a suitable enclosure it is important to consider the size of the animal. A 20 gallon tank is suitable for a hatchling but large adults will require an enclosure of at least 6 feet long and 2 feet deep and wide to accommodate their extensive length. Many owners start out with a standard aquarium but eventually must build their own enclosure. The enclosure should contain furniture such as rocks, plants, and branches to simulate their natural environment. The Savannah Monitor’s substrate can range between bark, soil and desert blend sand or a mixture of all three. Generally plastic plants are the best and easiest to care for.

    Heating & Lighting Requirements
    Daytime temperature should range between 82º-95º F on the heated side and nighttime temperature should drop to 60º to 68º F. An incandescent reptile heat bulb is recommended for heating during the day–use a black or red reptile bulb at night so the monitor experiences a natural darkness.

    Fluorescent light is also necessary to allow the savannahs to take in and use vitamins and minerals from their food. This tube bulb should only be used during the day as it is possible to give too much UVB rays – a 7% bulb is recommended.

    Humidity in the tank should be low most of the year but a simulated wet season will trigger the breeding response. If you’re interested in breeding it is best to invest in the help of several breeders and books.

    Handling
    When first taken to their new home, many animals will be stressed and should be left alone for at least three days or until readily eating when offered food. Over handling will add to their stress, limit handling to very brief (under 15 minute) sessions until the monitor is comfortable with you. If the animal struggles immediately return the pet to it’s cage and try again the next day. Most Savannah Monitors will become very tame, but as with people, all animals have their own personality – some monitors do not enjoy handling. Always check you animal for signs of illness/injury and promptly treat with the help of a qualified vet. As with any animal, wash your hands before and after handling or cage cleaning.

    Helpful Hints
    A monitor’s mouth contains powerful bacteria and the bite from a monitor requires special cleaning and a consultation with your physician. Monitors use this bacteria to help overcome their prey in the wild.

    We recommend a yearly veterinary exam for all animals and these reptiles are no exception. Your vet may recommend a de-worming program, a common treatment for all animals and he or she may also recommend dietary adjustments according to the condition of your pet. Books are a great way to become an educated owner and will help you take proper care of your monitor.

    Feeding too many rodents can cause the reptile to develop a “fur ball” and prevent proper digestion.

    If you do notice signs of illness in your pet please seek treatment promptly as they are good at hiding their illnesses. If you have any questions about your pet please contact a reptile room manager at 717-299-5691 ext. 1246 or veterinarian for instructions.