Up to 60 Inches
Up to 15 Years
Up to 60 Inches
Up to 15 Years

Varanus exanthematicus or Savannah Monitor after French scientist Louis Bosc is a medium-sized lizard.  It is an inhabitant of sub-Saharan Africa north of the Congo River in tropical savannahs. Here the region gets seasonal monsoons and sporadic periods of droughts. The lizard adapts themselves to a variety of habitats like woodlands or rocky deserts. The lizard spends the greater part of the time basking in the sun or burrowing in the soil.

The terminology exanthematicus is derived from the Greek word exanthem translating into skin eruption or blister. The lizard has big oval scales on its back and neck. In the wild, these creatures cover big distances in search of small prey. In the pet trade, the lizard is from the wild or captive-raised.

The Distinctive Features of Savannah Monitor

Common NameSavannah Monitor
Scientific NameVaranus exanthematicus
LifespanUp to 15 years
SizeUp to 60 inches
Weight20-30 pounds (adults)
ColorVaried patterns of brown, black, and yellow
Health RiskModerate
Unique TraitProminent scales, long tail, and sharp claws
Famous ForBeing popular pet reptiles
TemperamentGenerally docile, but may become defensive if not properly handled or socialized
AdaptabilityLow (requires specific habitat conditions and temperature gradients)
BehaviorNot recommended for households with young children
PersonalityLargely solitary, nocturnal, and active hunters
SocialSolitary by nature, but can tolerate occasional interaction

Savannah Monitors are known for their impressive size and robust build. They can grow up to 3 to 5 feet (36 to 60 inches) in length, with males generally being larger than females.

These lizards are stout with comparatively short powerful limbs and toes. These they use for digging. The blunt peg akin teeth and powerful jaw are adapted to kill and eat hard-shelled prey. The tongue is forked. The scales on the body are large. The midbody accommodates less than 100 scales. The tail is laterally compressed. The life expectancy is 10-15 years.

The nostrils are situated closer to the completion of the snout. The skin color decorations differ based on the local habitat conditions. Mostly the lizard is tan to grey with a shade lighter design on the back, sides, and tail.

Females lay about 40 or more eggs in a dugout deep hole. The hatching takes place in 156-160 days. Hatchlings begin to feed once the yolk sac is absorbed which happens in 12 or more days.

Pet Savannah Monitor Lying Down
Pet Savannah Monitor Resting on Tree Branch

How to Take Care of Pet Savannah Monitor?

There are many animal species that people can keep as pets in their homes. For example, there are small animals such as hamsters or fish and there are some bigger animals such as reptiles or birds. Other people might prefer to have a dog or a cat.

One should always be aware of the responsibility that comes with having a pet inside the home because they need to be fed and taken care of. In this article, we are going to talk about what one should feed Savannah Monitor at home.

How to Set Up Habitat for Pet Savannah Monitor?

Savannah is usually kept in a big cage with absolute environmental control. The care required is extensive and not suggested for beginners. The chances of lizard escaping are great. So, the cage should be enclosed from all sides and locked up. By a rough estimate, a hatchling and juvenile lizard can be accommodated with ease in a 55-gallon aquarium till it attains the age of six months.

For adults, the cage should at least be twice its length. Its dimensions should be 8-feet in length, 4-feet in width, and a minimum of 3 feet high. Place a big water dish in which the lizard can submerge its total body. Feces cleaning should be cleaned on daily basis. The cage needs committal every two weeks.

  • Temperature-The cage temperature should preferably be 95-100. The basking area should be kept between 110-130 F. This like other reptiles requires a temperature gradient of 85 F at daytime and 75 F at night. It is advised to use ceramic heat emitters at night.
  • Illumination- UVB lighting is mandatory. So, an immense UVB output bulb of about 8-10 % should give light for 10-12 hours to imitate the sunlight. The UVB gets redundant after sometimes so it needs to be changed.
  • Dampness- In captivity, the monitor is accommodated in dry hot surroundings like the one they stay in the wild. Humidity levels are more in the burrow region. Install a hygrometer inside the cage for measurement. The substrate needs to have 100% humidity and the coolest region of the cage to maintain a 60% level. The basking region should be moisture-free.
  • Foundation- In captivity, the substrate is recommended. By nature, Savannahs are diggers and like to burrow. The substrate must be carefully selected least the lizard swallow it with food and get clogged in the digestive tract. The natural ingredients like sand and organic soil should layer thick enough so that the lizard can make a 24-inch-deep burrow. The soiled substrate to be changed at regular intervals.

Savannah is active in the daytime and may conceal itself in the burrows if it is hot. They use their tongues continually to sense the surroundings especially when they happen to be eating.

What to Feed Pet Savannah Monitor?

In the wild, the lizard survives on gut-loaded invertebrates small prey food like rats, lizards, insects, crickets, millipedes' grasshoppers, mealworms, cockroaches' snails, etc. Thus, the Savannah monitor is carnivorous by nature. At home along with the above choice, the lizard can be served low-fat meals such as egg whites. The risk of obesity should be avoided.

The adult lizard diet can be dusted with calcium carbonate or calcium gluconate supplement on weekly basis. A general vitamin and mineral supplement may be given once a week. Adults need to be fed two or three times weekly. The young ones can be served with crickets as well as pinkies. As they grow bigger give them the exercise of chasing the cricket. A tiny portion of high-quality low-fat canned dog food can be served to hatchlings as well as juveniles. A healthy well-fleshed lizard can sustain hibernation and breeding season very well.

As a precaution give the lizard prey by dangling it as you hold on to forceps or kitchen tongs. In case the prey is frozen defrost it completely and then warm it a little before feeding. The growth spurt is within the first 2-3 years. The diet demand will accordingly increase. Savannah Monitor Lizard is prone to obesity. Feed adults once a week. Set the lizard in a routine.

What to Avoid Feeding Pet Savannah Monitor?

Feeding your pet Savannah Monitor requires careful consideration to ensure its health and well-being. There are specific food items that you should avoid offering to your monitor:

Firstly, it's crucial to refrain from feeding your Savannah Monitor insects that have been caught from the wild. These insects may carry parasites or have been exposed to pesticides, which can be detrimental to your pet's health.

Secondly, be cautious of toxic plants. Avoid providing your monitor with any plants that are known to be toxic to reptiles, such as lilies, daffodils, and azaleas. Additionally, high-fat and processed foods should be excluded from your monitor's diet. Foods like fatty meats, greasy dishes, and processed human foods can contribute to obesity and other health issues.

Be mindful of toxic prey items as well. Certain insects like fireflies and beetles can be toxic to reptiles and should not be included in your monitor's diet. While fruits can be offered as occasional treats, it's crucial to avoid feeding your monitor large quantities of fruits. Fruits should not make up a significant portion of its diet as excessive fruit consumption can lead to nutritional imbalances.

Lastly, it's essential to feed your monitor appropriately sized prey items. Avoid offering rodents that are larger than your monitor's head, as they may pose a risk of choking or digestive problems.

To ensure a healthy and balanced diet for your Savannah Monitor, consult with a reptile veterinarian or seek advice from experienced reptile keepers who can provide tailored recommendations based on your monitor's age, size, and overall health condition.

What are the Health Issues of Pet Savannah Monitor?

The common monitor sickness of the Savannah Lizard is treatable by an exotic vet. Some of the diseases are

  • Parasitic infection: Leads to sluggishness, lack of appetite, and vomiting. The external blood-sucking parasites can be life-threatening.
  • Respiratory infection: Open-mouth breathing, wheezing as well as mucus in the mouth.
  • Metabolic bone disease: If enough UVB rays, as well as calcium and vitamin D supplement, is not fed timely.
  • Obesity: Savannah Monitors are voracious eaters.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: It is so because of foreign bodies.

 A healthy monitor has smooth skin, absence of mites, tiny reddish-brown spots all over the face, bright clear eyes, rounded full-body, and sturdy even smooth jawline.

What it's Like to Keep Savannah Monitor as a Pet?

Here's what it's like to keep a Savannah Monitor as a pet:

Temperament and Handling: Savannah Monitors are generally not recommended for beginners, as they require experienced reptile keepers who can provide the specialized care they need. They are known to be skittish and defensive, especially when young, but with regular and gentle handling from a young age, they can become more tolerant. However, note that they are not a cuddly or affectionate pet and should be handled with caution and respect.

Maintenance: Proper enclosure cleaning and maintenance are crucial for the health of the Savannah Monitor. Regular spot cleaning of waste and soiled substrate, along with periodic deep cleaning of the enclosure, is necessary to prevent bacterial growth and maintain a hygienic environment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Savannah

Some of the commonly asked questions about pet Savannah Monitor are answered below.

Is Savannah Monitor a good pet?

Monitors are highly active and endure handling. It is not a pet for an amateur owner. At times they do not survive captivity. The demanding care routine is needed to keep them healthy. Many beginner pet owners abandon their pets once they are adults as they get demanding. Consistent handling from early-stage tames it. These lizards move unreasonably, they can be curtained with front legs held back along the body and behind legs along the tail.

Can a Savannah Monitor kill you?

Monitor lizards happen to secrete venom but it is not lethal to humans. The cause of worry should be the possibility of bacterial infection from the bite.

Are Savannah Monitors aggressive?

These monitors are docile species and generally run away from humans. They do not target attacks on humans unless threatened. If the monitor is handled frequently it becomes aggressive leading to a bite. The teeth are tiny but sharp. The claws can scratch as well. The long heavy tail is used as a whip to protect themselves. There is a hissing noise. The monitor becomes aggressive if under attack or if another monitor encroaches on its territory.