Your Reptile and Amphibian Resource and Information Site

Monitors Forum

Click Here To Register and Become A Member Of The RepticZone Family  

Back to Monitors Forum   Forums   Home   Members Area  

Infernalis   BowserHungry   Infernalis   SalvatorREX   Izar   BowserHungry   Daryl-   Yaksha   BowserHungry   Savannahmonitorlover   BowserHungry   Savannahmonitorlover   Smokayman   Yaksha   BowserHungry   Krusty   Mdf   Mdf   Infernalis   Infernalis   Dp525   Tempestborn  

 Member  Message

 #2280223


Infernalis
View Profile





 Why proper housing is so important

After reading many posts, it has become painfully apparent that far too many new keepers have no idea why proper caging is paramount to their monitors health.

If you take the time to read this hats off to you, if it sinks in better still.


Sadly on January 24, 2012 my Savannah monitor of 5 years passed away from errors in husbandry, I feel very strongly about getting this paramount information out so that others may benefit from it.

This particular monitor was raised on a diet of primarily invertebrate foods, so "fatty liver disease" was not the problem. (different topic altogether) He was given 40 acres of prime country real estate to roam upon, so he was incredibly well exercised, his cage was located in my reptile room that is environmentally controlled to never fall below 80 degrees (F) and his basking area was maintained at 125-135 at all times except at night.

We never even knew anything was wrong until one day in November he started coughing, We took him to a vet for a checkup, and unfortunately this vet was not qualified to diagnose yet alone treat reptiles, and he incorrectly assumed that a Baytril regimen would cure this, and I foolishly believed him.

After 14 days of steady Baytril treatments, my monitor was not improving one bit, so we decided to find a different vet and we found Dr. Sanford who has two masters degrees in zoological medicine, and is reptile certified.

She did the blood work and found that his uric acid levels were off the charts, she prescribed a treatment for gout but also advised us that his chances for recovery were slim to none, as his internal body chemistry had been so far out of balance for so long that she believed that permanent organ damage had already set in.

After only three doses of his gout medication he began vomiting blood, then diarrhea set in and it became very clear that he was suffering in ways I hope I never have to witness again as long as I live.

The decision was made that putting him down was the only humane option available.

The official post mortem diagnosis was long term low level dehydration, a condition that is brought on by insufficient humidity in the enclosure, a fate that all too many Monitors suffer when kept in anything but ideal conditions.

If you have a Savannah Monitor (Or any other monitor lizard) you simply must have at least one accurate digital hygrometer installed in your cage, you must maintain the ideal humidity levels for the species you keep, or the Monitor will eventually die a very ugly death. It is also very highly advised that you have an Infrared Temp gun on hand for checking your basking spot.

There must be substrate deep enough to support burrowing, if you do not follow this advice, I don’t care how "healthy" your lizard may look, they are dying slowly inside. By the time symptoms manifest and become visible it’s too late.

The laws of survival in the wild mandate that they remain vigorous and functional until their final moments or risk falling prey to the next predator up the food chain. Therefore even if you ASSUME your animal is doing fine, the hard cold truth is it may not be so.

Since reptiles do not have pores, they do not sweat, since they pass Urates as a solid white chalky clump, they do not urinate.

So how exactly does this slow dehydration take place?

By breathing dry air, that’s how.

To put it in perspective, when we breath outside in the winter, we draw in dry winter air, and when we exhale, you can see your breath, this is because our lungs transfer water molecules to the dry air and we exhale moist air forming condensation, hence the "cloud" we see when we breath.

This same exact principal applies to Squamates (snakes and lizards). when we take an animal that has evolved over millions of years to breath damp tropical air and place it in a box that has low humidity, each and every breath the animal takes will release precious moisture into the air. Now since reptiles breath very slowly and each of those slow breaths only release minuscule amounts of body water, the process takes many months, sometimes years to bring the internal dehydration to critical levels.

This process in turn stresses the kidneys and liver eventually causing them to fail altogether, then the uric acid levels in the blood begin to rapidly escalate leading to Gout. By the time the symptoms of gout manifest and become visible, it’s entirely too late to reverse it. (in virtually all cases, maybe with an odd exception) furthermore, as their body desperately begins drawing from it water reserves, the brain itself will begin shrinking, leading to sunken eyes.

This is where burrows come into play as a method of water conservation. If you have ever been in a dank basement you can feel the humidity in the air, it’s thick. This is why the air in mines and deep basements is so heavy, suspended water molecules in the air add weight to it.

During the hottest parts of the day, droughts and dry seasons, Monitor lizards will retreat to the burrows and not come back out until the conditions are more favorable.

When we keep them in boxes that do not have correct humidity levels and also do not provide enough soil substrate for the animal to dig a burrow and retreat, they begin drying out slowly through respiration. (Technical term for breathing)

Misting a poorly set up cage will not prevent this, soaking the lizard in a bath tub will not prevent this, big water bowls do not prevent this, only correct humidity and offering the opportunity to burrow will prevent this. Proper caging is paramount to your lizard’s heath, this cannot be stressed enough.

In conclusion, this is why keeping any monitor in conditions that do not support it’s basic physiology needs will ultimately lead to failure.

Many thanks to Mark (MDF) for providing this video clip. Many thanks to David Kirshner, Daniel Bennett, and many others for their kindness and insight, not to mention years of field observations.










This photo was taken the night Chomper died, He could not even stand up.



09/13/12  01:12pm

 #2280241


BowserHungry
View Profile



  Message To: Infernalis   In reference to Message Id: 2280223


 Why proper housing is so important

Ok please tell me what I can buy to make sure his 8by4by4 humid enough to live healthy.. I don’t understand how to keep the moisture especially in a large enclosure



09/13/12  03:59pm

 #2280245


Infernalis
View Profile



  Message To: BowserHungry   In reference to Message Id: 2280241


 Why proper housing is so important

Deep dirt substrate like I use, I never mist, I don’t use a humidifier.

When you get the "box" built, seal all the seams with caulk or hot glue.

My front window is a shower door.



09/13/12  04:23pm

 #2280249


SalvatorREX
View Profile



  Message To: Infernalis   In reference to Message Id: 2280245


 Why proper housing is so important

thanks for sharing that.sorry for your loss



09/13/12  04:46pm

 #2280253


Izar
View Profile



  Message To: Infernalis   In reference to Message Id: 2280223


 Why proper housing is so important

nice thread! i feel your pain,exsplains a lot,thanks



09/13/12  05:45pm

 #2280254


BowserHungry
View Profile



  Message To: SalvatorREX   In reference to Message Id: 2280249


 Why proper housing is so important

So he doesn’t need anything other than a strong deep substrate? It would be good to occasionally mist it or no?



09/13/12  05:47pm

 #2280257


Daryl-
View Profile



  Message To: BowserHungry   In reference to Message Id: 2280254


 Why proper housing is so important

Thanks for the well written thread. This site needs Sticky’s!

Cheers
Daryl



09/13/12  06:06pm

 #2280260


Yaksha
View Profile



  Message To: Daryl-   In reference to Message Id: 2280257


 Why proper housing is so important

bowser it depends on what your humidity level in the cage averages out to be. if it is a little on the dry side then yes you can mist to compensate.. but with proper deep substrate and a tightly sealed enclosure you should not have an issue.. with mine i have to add about a bucket of water to the soil every 6 months



09/13/12  06:16pm

 #2280262


BowserHungry
View Profile



  Message To: Yaksha   In reference to Message Id: 2280260


 Why proper housing is so important

Ok wicked im starting his adult enclosure tomorrow im so excited



09/13/12  06:27pm

 #2280269


Savannahmonitorlover
View Profile



  Message To: BowserHungry   In reference to Message Id: 2280262


 Why proper housing is so important

My humidity ranges 60 to 80 for my baby sav. I have 9 iches of dirt/sand mix and he is 9 inches nose to end of tail. Is thes enough until I build his adult enclosure in the next few weeks to a month?



09/13/12  07:25pm

 #2280272


BowserHungry
View Profile



  Message To: Savannahmonitorlover   In reference to Message Id: 2280269


 Why proper housing is so important

From what I gathered you should try your best to get his enclosure done as soon as possible im starting mine tomorrow but I have available resources if you are in fact building it this month im sure he will be fine.. It sounds like you have the right substrate (could use a little more) and your humitidy levels I couldn’t tell you im still researching
Is your sav in a fish tank?
How big is his current enclosure?
Your guy is roughly my guys age I have a 33 gal tank I’ve been told to upgrade asap so I would assume you should too



09/13/12  07:35pm

 #2280292


Savannahmonitorlover
View Profile



  Message To: BowserHungry   In reference to Message Id: 2280272


 Why proper housing is so important

Yes I am he is in a 55 gallon temperarely all his temps are correct checked with infared temp gun. Humifity is correct checked with a temperature and humidity gauge. Not one of those cheap ones. He eats like crazy and grows everyweek week. Im building an 12x4x4 big enough to fit in my whole closet I have a rather large closet lol.



09/13/12  11:13pm

 #2280650


Smokayman
View Profile



  Message To: Infernalis   In reference to Message Id: 2280223


 Why proper housing is so important

Sorry for your loss. While this post is informative of your situation, it does little to offer us information on what the correct humidity in an enclosure should be. 50%? 80%? And I don’t want to sound ignorant, but are we to believe monitors can’t drink water to hydrate themselves?



09/18/12  01:08am

 #2280657


Yaksha
View Profile



  Message To: Smokayman   In reference to Message Id: 2280650


 Why proper housing is so important

if you think monitors can just drink water to hydrate themselves then you did not do any research or understand lizard physiology at all.. proper humidity depends on the species some need more than other .. sav would be around 60% humidity



09/18/12  06:26am

 #2280659


BowserHungry
View Profile



  Message To: Yaksha   In reference to Message Id: 2280657


 Why proper housing is so important

I’m building an enclosure for my iguana this week for the time being I put a divider in browsers cage to give yoshi a little more room so for about a week they will be in a 2.5by 4by 4 that should be alright right?



09/18/12  07:04am

 #2280664


Krusty
View Profile



  Message To: BowserHungry   In reference to Message Id: 2280659


 Why proper housing is so important

This is a very good post, bump-worthy, explaining why proper caging and conditions are needed. The lizard’s brain does not shrink leading to sunken eyes though. Lol. The brain is encased in bone short of a few small holes for nerves and vessels. It’s the anorexia, volume loss, and severe lethal dehydration that causes the eye sockets to cave in and darken in the very end. Good post though!



09/18/12  07:48am

 #2280704


Mdf
View Profile



  Message To: Krusty   In reference to Message Id: 2280664


 Why proper housing is so important


Great post!!

Just wish it wasn’t one of my monitor been one of the stars!

As you keep more monitors & get into the flow of their movement & habits, you learn see what you didn’t see in the beginning that keepers like Justin try & help/point out to you as you learn.

I always thought i was doing great & as you look back you see the mistakes in husbandry, the 1st clip in the above vid has around a 100 thousand views plus, but a few years on i see the mistakes as clear as day with my modern day knowledge, sadly my set-ups then are still better than most set-ups you see on you tube today.

Hopefully Wayne’s hard work will help reduce the yearly death rate due to this easy to correct problem. :)







09/18/12  03:12pm

 #2280709


Mdf
View Profile



  Message To: Infernalis   In reference to Message Id: 2280245


 Why proper housing is so important



Wayne you may want use this pic as well, eyes are still bright & clear, but body is going down hill>



09/18/12  03:33pm

 #2280858


Infernalis
View Profile



  Message To: Mdf   In reference to Message Id: 2280709


 Why proper housing is so important

Thank you Mark, picture saved. You have my personal email, don’t hesitate to use it.

Justin, if the sunken eyes scare people into making changes, so be it.

However, Google search "brain shrinkage reptile dehydration" there is a wealth of medical / scientific data published on that subject.

It comes from feeding a dehydrated animal, and since the digestive tract requires fluids to digest, the body will draw water from wherever it can, including brain tissues.

Since Varanids can actually go months without eating a thing, most people go overboard at the loss of appetite and will do things as far as force feeding.

I know I was quite stupid on that subject, when chomper quit eating, I was doing all kinds of ignorant junk trying to get food into him, and honestly at 11 pounds & 3 feet long, he had PLENTY of reserves to draw from.



09/20/12  02:35am

 #2281547


Infernalis
View Profile



  Message To: Infernalis   In reference to Message Id: 2280858


 Why proper housing is so important

http://www.varanid.us/gout/Link

Additional data, the importance of hot basking spots explained.



09/27/12  09:06pm

 #2281560


Dp525
View Profile



  Message To: Infernalis   In reference to Message Id: 2280223


 Why proper housing is so important

A D@MN GOOD POST I HOPE THE NEW OWNER READ IT..



09/28/12  12:14am

 #2281705


Tempestborn
View Profile



  Message To: Infernalis   In reference to Message Id: 2280223


 Why proper housing is so important

how very sad. i am so sorry for your loss. i am terribly lazy about humidity--living in texas spoils one that way. at any given time, my whole house is at least 60%. I DO NOT OWN A MONITOR. i have iguanas and beardies, and a baby sulcata tortoise with those exacting kinds of needs. seems like if you look at a sulcata wrong, it dies. everything has to be perfect. and all the info contradicts itself, even that you get from sulcata owners. thank you for the post. it doesn’t matter that i don’t have the species in question; it matters that all reptiles require very precise care, tailored to their species and that those who know get as much of that knowledge out as possible.

so sorry about your buddy.

jesse



09/30/12  09:55am


Back to Monitors Forum   Forums   Home   Members Area