for Your Savannah
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Honkers: Not a lizard for youngsters to keep. Savannah monitors start out fairly harmless (almost friendly), but they get really big -- too big for most people. Be aware that they do not stay so cute and cuddly.
Environment: Savannahs come from the grassy plains (savannahs) of Africa. They like climbing areas and swim less than the other monitors. They still need a large “swimming pool.” When young, these monitors love climbing rocks, loafing in the sun, and loafing in their water dish. Cat pans make a practical size water dish for savannah monitors up to two or three feet long.
Temperature: Monitors demand 85o or better during the day. Too cool temperatures make them susceptible to disease. High temperatures speed up their metabolism. This helps them digest their food more easily and fight off diseases. Sick monitors often respond to temperatures around 100o. Take your ill monitor to a good lizard vet fast. Since most are wild caught, you may need your lizard vet to de-worm yours.
Foods: Start them on crickets then convert them to goldfish. Cost-wise, feeder goldfish make an economical food. As they approach a foot long, add mice to their menu and canned monitor food. A small savannah cannot eat an entire can of monitor food. Cut the canned food into portions and freeze the extras. Add small rats (humanely killed, of course) as they grow. We recommend the frozen ones when you can find them (thawed, of course). They love boiled eggs. They run after boiled eggs rolled across their tank floor. They also eat them from your fingers. Count your fingers after doing this. Unshelled eggs add lots of calcium. Hold the mayo. Monitors will eat raw eggs, but they are really messy. If you took Art Appreciation or participated in a football “egging,” you know how long dried raw eggs hang around. Raw eggs also interfere with the absorption of biotin in many critters.
Comment: Jumping crickets trigger your savannah
predator responses. They love to chase crickets. They like
chasing crickets even more than loafing.
Security: Savannah monitors, especially the little guys, need a cave or piece of wood to hide in, behind, or under. They squeeze into nearly any crevice. Those cork caves work great for little ones.
monitors need full-spectrum fluorescent lighting or daily
sessions in real sunlight. The
closer they can climb to your bulbs, the better your bulbs work.
Supplements: Because the bones of small savannah monitors grow so much, your baby monitors also need calcium and vitamin supplements dusted on their crickets. If you give them pinkies (baby rodents) and goldfish, you will meet many of their mineral and vitamin needs. If you feed the canned monitor foods, you won’t need the supplements.
Heat: An under-cage
heater plus a basking heat source make a good combination. Provide a range
of temperatures for your savannah monitor if possible. Heat
rocks also provide a good basking site for the little guys.
Clean yours often to discourage bacterial growth.
Water: Savannah monitors love loafing in the water. They try less hard to flip their water bowls than other monitors. However, you need to use a very heavy water container or buy a heavy-duty mop. And since they use their water bowl as their toilette, you need to change it often.
Handling: Savannah monitors tame quite easily. Niles are harder to tame. The smallest ones are easiest to work with. If you handle yours daily, he soon learns to adjust to (put up with) you.
like to explore their surroundings. Give
them branches and rocks to climb on and caves to explore.
If you provide them a box of sand or dirt, they will probably
burrow into it for fun. They
Last Words: Savannah monitors walk around in their own digested food. This means they probably carry salmonella. Wash your hands after handling all reptiles. LA.
P.S. You can also find subspecies of savannah monitors. One of the niftiest is the black-throat monitor below.
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