Pet Care Guides Reptile



Australia, Africa, Asia mainly in tropical, desert and subtropical zones.

Average Size

8" to 10'


Grasslands, savannas, open forests, rain forests, deserts


10-20 years


Various species of monitor differ widely in their requirements. Some are largely insectivorous while others prefer vertebrates. Most young monitors will accept a diet of appropriately sized crickets, roaches, superworms, waxworms and canned insects, and slowly adjust to eat pinkie mice, canned monitor food, dog food and even some eggs. Most species will readily accept small mice as food.

Adults should be fed at least twice a week. Young monitors should be fed every two to three days. Consult a book or visit our store if you are unsure what healthy monitor looks like. It is not adviseable to overfeed your pet so observation is necessary to determine what works.

Always keep the monitor plump, but do not feed too much at one time so that the live food crawls on the animal. This can cause stress and possibly cause injury to your reptile if anything chews on him.

Reptile vitamins should be used 2-3 times a week for growing animals and one for adults on an insect diet. Too many vitamins can be harmful for animals on a rodent-based diet. Monitors should always have access to clean water and some will prefer to bathe in the water.

It is unwise for anyone not familiar with monitors to hold them. These large carnivores have been responsible for many injuries and generally do not take well to handling. Extreme caution should be exercised should you have to hold your pet.


Extra large aquariums or custom built cages work out best for these animals. Provide branches or other climbing material since they like to climb.Also provide a large shallow water dish and hiding places.

Ground media ideally is Lizard Litter, Jungle Mix or Repti Bark. Do not use cedar chips since they can be toxic.

Largely aquatic species like Merten's water monitor spend a great deal of time in the water, thus a set up with half water (containing a filter system), and half land is recommended for this type of monitor. Filtration can be a challenge, however, as monitors frequently deficate in their water. A large filtration system such as those used for ponds or pools is recommended. The White Throat and Savannah Monitors prefer a drier climate but still need access to water. Never allow the monitor to sit in a damp cage as this can lead to skin infections.

Heating & Lighting Requirements

A daytime ambient temperature of 78-85 degrees; with a basking spot around 100 degrees is preferred. Your monitor should have the opportunity to choose between a variety of different temperatures within its enclosure. Night temperatures can very between 75-80. We recommend the use of a daylight bulb above the cage during the daytime hours. This light should be a special full spectrum reptile light that gives off heat. At nighttime, turn off the daylight bulb and use a nightime heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter to provide heat. Check to make sure the temperature stays above 75° It is also essential to provide UVA and UVB light through the use of fluorescent, compact fluorescent, mercury vapor bulbs or natural sunlight. These rays are necessary to promote normal behavior and reproduction, as well as to synthesize vitamin D3 for calcium metabolism. Fluorescent bulbs need to be replaced every six months, and should be within 12-24" of your monitor to provide full benefit.


Handling monitors can be a very tricky and potentially dangerous proposition. Recommended only for experienced keepers, most species of monitor are capable of inflicting high amounts of injury and pain to their keepers. In addition, many species do not acclimate well to handling and become very stressed. Though there are individual exceptions, most monitors are best observed without handling.

There are several types of monitors available for sale in our store. One of the most popular and most docile is the White Throat Monitor, which is a close relative of the Savannah Monitor.


Claw trimming is similar to dog nail clipping. You can use regular nail clippers or special “reptile clippers”. Use these with care. It is recommended to have your pet's nails clipped by your vet or someone experienced working with monitors

Helpful Hints

It is critical to know what the correct temperature zone is for your monitor and to know exactly what the temperature zone is inside your tank. Knowing that your tank is hot is not enough! If you keep a reptile too warm will cause overheating and death. Keeping a reptile too cool causes a weakened immune system, difficulty in normal body functions and digestion.
Proper care and maintenance will provide you with years of enjoyment from your new pet. Please call us in the Reptile Room at 717-299-5691 ext. 246 if you have any questions or concerns.