Savannah monitors are a species of Varanus lizards. They look like small komodo dragons, so it might not come as a surprise that savannah monitor lizards are related to them!
Savannah monitors have the same distinctive appearance with a stocky build, powerful legs, and a long tail. Their skin is covered in small, round scales that can range in color from light brown to dark brown or black, often with white and yellow markings.
It’s for this reason that savannah monitors are popular lizard pets. They’re also active and intelligent, and one of the easiest monitor lizards to tame!
Despite that, savannah monitors can grow large in size and can be aggressive if not raised and handled properly from a young age. So there are a few things to weigh up before choosing one as a pet.
To help you care for your savannah monitor or decide whether a savannah monitor is the right pet for you, this savannah monitor care sheet will tell you everything you need to know (see also “Veiled Chameleon Care Sheet”).
Adult savannah monitors can grow up to 3.5 feet in length. So tank size can vary depending on the size and age of your savannah monitor, as well as how much they grow!
As a result, the first thing to know if you’re planning on owning a savannah monitor as a pet is that you might need to increase the size of the tank as they grow.
In general, savannah monitors require a 20 gallon tank at the minimum. This can increase to 40 gallons for larger young savannah monitors and 90 gallons (at least) for full-grown adult savannah monitors.
All in all, the larger the tank, the better!
Substrate is what you’ll need to put on the bottom of your savannah monitor’s tank. It’s not the same for all lizards, and for savannah monitors the substrate you’ll need is a fine calcium-based sand that won’t cause digestion problems if eaten.
It’s also worth lining the bottom of the tank with newspaper, paper towels, or reptile carpet – linings that will absorb moisture and be easy to replace when it’s time to clean.
In general, substrates should be replaced every two weeks for savannah monitors.
Like all lizards, savannah monitors need somewhere to hide away and rest. For savannah monitors, this can be anything that they can get inside that offers shelter – as long as it’s sturdy, indestructible, and not easily moved!
The reason for this is that savannah monitors can be destructive. Rocks, hollow logs, and sturdy store-bought lizard hides are therefore good choices for savannah monitors.
A good tip is that savannah monitor tank furnishings do not need to be pretty; they only need to be simple and robust!
Temperature And Lighting
Savannah monitors are similar to other lizards in that they need a specific general temperature in their tank to thrive, along with a basking spot.
The average temperature of a savannah monitor tank should be between 95–100 F while the basking spot should be between 110–130 F.
At night, the general temperature of the tank should be around 75 F. Savannah monitors also need a strong UVB light source to replicate sunlight – at least 10 to 12 hours per day.
All in all, this replicates their natural habitat (the savannahs, it should go without saying!), which is essential for their happiness and health.
Humidity And Hydration
Being native to the savannahs, savannah monitors need a level of humidity that’s around 40% to 60%. This should be maintained and checked often to emulate the habitat they’re comfortable in.
If you find that the humidity is low, you can mist the enclosure with a water spray bottle around twice per day.
Savannah monitors also need a drinking source, so make sure to include a fresh water bowl (replaced daily) in the enclosure – one that’s sturdy enough to not be knocked over by your savannah monitor!
In the wild, savannah monitors eat a wide range of insects, including crickets, mealworms, superworms, roaches, and grasshoppers. They’ll also eat small mammals, such as mice and rats, as well as birds and eggs.
As pets, savannah monitors can be fed a similar diet, but live insects will typically make up the biggest portion of what you can feed them.
Gut-loaded insects that include crickets, earthworms, and roaches, generally dusted with calcium powder, are a good choice. This improves their bone density and ensures they’re getting all the nutrients they need.
Savannah monitors can be handled, but it’s important to know that they can be aggressive if they are not used to it. They have sharp claws and are known to bite!
So if you plan on holding your savannah monitor, it’s best to start doing it (taming them) from an early age.
It’s recommended to approach your savannah monitor slowly and calmly, letting them know that you are there. Always pick them up with two hands and make sure to be aware of any signs of agitation or stress.
If your savannah monitor appears to be getting restless, it’s a good idea to put them back in their enclosure.
To successfully breed Savannah monitors, a male and female should be introduced in a large enclosure that meets all the requirements.
It’s important to closely monitor their behavior, as aggressive behavior can occur if the male is not receptive to the female or if the female is not receptive to mating.
It’s also important to know that females can lay up to 50 eggs at a time. Make sure to provide a nest for the female to lay her eggs, then be ready to incubate them in a separate enclosure for up to six months.
In summary, savannah monitors are great pets as long as you’re willing to invest the time and resources to give them the proper care and attention they require.
If you read everything in this guide, then you should know by now whether a savannah monitor is the right pet for you!