Message To: Ezbaked420 In reference to Message Id: 248752
This is about whitethroats but the basic husbandry of all monitors are the same,
With minor changes by species and individuals.
VARANUS ALBIGULARIS, by Shawn Henderson (avid varanifile and monitor hobbyist)
Varanus (latin-monitor lizard), Albi=white, gularis=throat. The whitethroated monitor is a complex of subspecies, V.a.Albigularis, V.a.Microstictus (true blackthroat), v.a.Angolensis (Angolan whitethroat), V.a.Ionidesi (blackthroat found in the pet industry commonly, named for the famous snakeman ionides). They range as a species from one local area to the next by a few miles in color, pattern, and size as an adult. They are a large species of monitor that at any size is one of the most powerful species, and very imposing captives, they have the best or worst tail whip of any monitor (depends if you are on the recieving end), very very powerful jaws especially adapted to crush giant land snails, turtles, and tortoise. They are semi arboreal yet spend half of their time underground in burrows, or searching the ground for prey. They are well known by African bird watchers as the most prevalent predator on nesting birds, and song birds, they will in fact set an ambush next to a nest of eggs or chicks to await the return of the parents, eat both parents then the eggs or chicks. They are also known for living in large rock piles hence the name "rock or tree leguaan. They are greatly adapted diggers and can burrow like a highly skilled team of miners in hard packed dirt. They are found as far north as southern Egypt and south to the tip of the cape, they range from white to yellowish, to reddish, brown, black, with banded, spotted, or almost solid patterns. They vary from 4ft to over 7ft depending of location in relation to the equator and availability of food, lack of predators. They range from 7lbs to over 35lbs in weight, and can very destuctive, as well tear poorly designed cages apart and furniture. They posess a set of sharp teeth in the front as well the majority of their middle and back teeth like other African monitors molarize with age or wear rounded. They have a horribly powerful bite with the ability to crack or crush bone, they have a habit of hanging on without releasing, regardless of attempts to remove them. They are a common predator of snakes, especially venomous cobras and vipers (which they act a bit less confident in approach). They are also known to eat other species of monitor from young niles to the bosc or savannah monitors which is Africas smallest species (when they are found in the same areas). They are known to live in a semi-arid to arid grassland, woodland environments (hence the term savannah monitor, not to be confused with the American pet trade savannah monitor, V exanthematicus).
They are rewarding captives if given alot of room, deep digable dirt substate in which to tunnel and burrow under, their natural habitat has a high iron content soil with little to no organic material (leaves, tree bark, vegetation, these type subtrates hold too much water and spoil or get moldy). They do best on a rodent based diet from birth through adulthood with additions of crickets, roaches, superworms, chicken peeps, quail, and occaisional amounts of meat (ground turkey is common as the San Diego Zoo turkey diet, a mixture of steamed bonemeal, turkey and a crushed Centrum one a day vitamin), and some other foods, all insects should be supplemented with a good quality calcium supplement such as Miner-all or herpti-cal with Vit D3 (actually a sterol not a vitamin).
They enjoy a very high basking temperature (surface temp) of 130-170f plus degrees. The basking spot should be made from plywood as it holds a consistant temp, is inexpensive, not too heavy to hurt your animal if it falls on it, and is very sturdy (untreated wood, thats without arsenic which leaches into the soil etc). These animals should be kept in multiple cages from 4x2x2ft to 10x4x5ft or much larger as they grow (which if cared for properly happens very very fast, anywhere from 4-5 ft in their first year is possible), cages should be waterproof inside to resist moisture from damp substrate, and tough surfaces to resist powerful monitors claws.
They require a fresh source of water to drink as they need it (if kept properly they rarely ever drink, and rarely ever soak), and if they want to,adding a soaking water source at their disposal. Usually screen top cages cause a big problem with dehydration which shows as the want to soak alot, it also manifests itself by showing up down the road in the form of lack of appetite, frequent drinking, crystalization of uric acid in the kidneys almost no matter how much soaking occurs and eventually death by kidney failure, usually explained by vets to greiving owners as mysterious kidney failure (occurs in so many captive monitors kept in open top cages and no proper substrate). Also among health problems there are 2 other common occurances in captivity, one is liver failure which is caused by long term low basking temps, the lack of ability to properly digest food/use available energy from food by storing massive amounts of fat then mobilizing it suddenly during a fast causing the liver to be soaked and overcome by "fatty liver disorder" or hepatic lipidosis. This was formerly blamed on feeding a rodent diet high in protien, but found to be a serious husbandry problem in all reptiles not diet. The other problem is impacted digestive systems, the happens when again too low of temps and dehydration are mixed with a seriously obese animal in many cases that cannot properly digest or pass food or objects such as rocks, wood, substrate etc through their digestive system, it is a serious husbandry issue and a sign that changes were needed a long time ago. You should find a good experienced herp vet through Herpvets.com or ARAV websites as well ask around the reptile community and ask each vet many detailed informed questions before choosing one. Basking spots can be made into "Retes Stacks", or pyramid shaped unattached stacks with a tight space for your monitor to squeeze into allowing it to thermoregulate in multiple temperature zones while feeling secure.
These animals can cause severe damage when biting or scratching and bites should not be bragged about and if possible avoid reporting them to even medical authorities as animal bite info is collected every year and used by politcal groups against our hobby in local and state laws. Not to say you shouldnt seek medical help but to not bring bad legislation to our wonderful hobby, bites happen so its best to report it to be safe as all pet hobbyists know if it has teeth it can bite.
Note: although if kept properly they can be rewarding captives 99% are wild caught and can carry high loads of internal parasites as well ticks and mites from being kept in improper conditions, true captive bred and born specimens are very rare and expensive but are the best choice for captives as they have never experienced freedom in the wild therefore dont miss it as well imports are many times very badly abused. They can take time to learn to trust their caretakers in captivity as all animals have individual personalities. These lizards can be bred in captivity sucessfully if offered the right resources, they are also very territorial and are known to be cannibalistic if not offered choices and resources. They are also born with the knowledge and weapons to kill one another very very quickly as adults, therefore pairs should be identified by sex at small sizes such as above hatchlings and raised together to teach them to communicate and speak the same language, pairs should also be offered very very large enclosures to facilitate their need to escape one another at times. These lizards are also known to be avid lizard specialists as all monitors are at eating hatchlings, and smaller neighbors, as well eggs of any species available.
Eggs should be incubated artificially at temperatures around 83-86f in perlite as it is a more consistent and an easy medium to use. It takes about 6 months to incubate anywhere from 20-52 eggs from V. albigularis in a clutch, the eggs are around 2.25 inches in length, and they hatch at about 9 inches long. As hatchlings they should be fed daily the diet mentioned earlier in this species plate/caresheet, they are known to be bottomless pits when it comes to feeding and can put away huge amounts that seem to disappear with ease. These animals can sucessfully reproduce at the age of 6 months old if kept somewhat close to correctly as demonstrated by many hobbyists in the past.
Basking lights can be made sucessfully from standard outdoor halogen flood lightbulbs bought from any local hardware store as they have no need for overpriced UV bulbs sold by reptile suppliers as they get all required nutrients from a proper diet, the wattage of those floodlight bulbs varies with needs and cages ( the author uses all 45 watt halogen outdoor flood bulbs arranged in multilight assemblies to properly heat the entire snout to vent size of the animal). There is no danger from monitors climbing on hot light bulbs if offered the correct temperature gradient and the ability to properly heat up without lying on the bulbs, as well thermal burns happen when a basking "hot-spot" is too small and the animal spends too much time basking under it in cool conditions.