All About Monitor Lizards

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Monitor Lizard on the grassIf you are curious about caring, grooming, or feeding you lizard, we have everything you ever wanted to know and all your questions answered below. Read on to learn more about these quite creatures including monitor lizard facts.

What Are Physical Traits of the Monitor Lizard?

There are at least 50 known species of monitor lizards, with new ones being discovered all the time. Some have been known to be as small as 8 inches, but most (such as the Nile monitor lizard that has become popular in Florida) can be quite large.

They have long necks and sturdy limbs. Their claws are very sharp, and their tails typically account for half of their body length. Most species of monitor lizards stick to the ground, but some prefer to make their homes in trees or near water. Almost all species of monitor lizards are carnivorous, though a few will eat fruit.

Monitor lizards differ from most other known species of lizards in that they have a high metabolism. This means they must be fed more often than other lizards. In fact, while they are referred to as “lizards,” monitors are thought to be most closely related to snakes. They are considered rather intelligent and have even shown the ability to count as high as 6.

Why Do Monitor Lizards Move?

Monitors move for various reasons.

  1. One is to search for food.
  2. The second is to find shelter from the heat or to sleep, and fin basking spots.
  3. The third is to run from predators.
  4. And the final is to search for mates.

Males are most active during mating season. However, their movement may be limited by temperature changes and the need to conserve water.

How Far Can Monitor Lizards Move?

The daily distance traveled by a monitor lizard varies based on the season, their habitat, and the monitor lizard size. Males tend to be more active than females, primarily because they eat more food (and thus have more energy), and they grow faster as well.  Some monitor species will spend most of their time in one location, while others will constantly be in motion.

Monitor lizards have sharp and sensitive eyesight. They can see objects from far away and use this advantage to identify pray and keep their distance from predators. Their eyesight, similar to certain types of dinosaur (Tyrannosaurus) is based on movement. Their visual field spans 240 degrees.

Do Monitor Lizards See in Color or Black and White?

Just like researchers are uncertain about the visions capabilities of dinosaurs in terms of color, scientists, at the time of this writing, are uncertain as to whether monitor lizards and see in color or not. What we do now is that their ability to see in the dark is limited.

How Do Monitor Lizards Communicate? Can They Hear?

Monitors primary method of communication is via their movements and their posture. They will make various noises – hissing when threatened and at times, a sneezing like sound. Evidence suggests that monitor lizards can hear, but as far as researchers can tell they rely less on hearing and more on their other senses

What Do Monitor Lizards Eat?

Some monitor lizards have sharper teeth than others. But teeth don’t necessarily make a difference, as monitor lizards will typically swallow their prey whole. The epiglottis prevents food and water from entering the larynx, allowing a monitor lizard to breathe while it swallows its food. A monitor lizard’s teeth, unlike human teeth, are replaced on a regular basis throughout their life.

How Well Do Monitor Lizards Retain Water?

While monitor lizards can generally retain water fairly well, their overall ability to retain water depends on their environment.  Shifts in temperature, as well as climate, will also affect a lizard’s ability to retain water. Monitors that live near areas of water and don’t find the need to retain water as often, have more difficulty retaining water in dryer environments.

In contrast, those that that live near dryer areas have a greater ability to retain water. Monitor lizards living in tropical, humid climates, are better able to retain water as the air itself contains more water. Smaller animals, living in dry areas, that are able to hide in burrows and trees, are more successful at retaining water than their larger counterparts, which have more difficulty escaping the dry, arid heat.

Water Monitors Are Able to Track Scents from Their Tongues

Monitor lizards’ fork-like tongues allow them to taste the air, which in turn lets them detect movement and prey. Taste buds on their tongues, as well as organs near the tip of their nose, allow them to almost triangulate the location of a small depending on which side of the tongue they are locating a scent. Water monitors also use their tongues to test their prey before consuming it. They can use these techniques both underground and underwater.

Male and Female Water Monitors Distinguish Themselves Through Smell

It is hard to distinguish a male monitor from a female one based purely on physical appearance. Monitor lizards are able to identify other males and females with their sense of smell. The lizards release pheromones, and mark their territory in similar fashion to other animals (dogs for example – by urinating).

Monitors can drag their tails to mark their territories, and will use these markings to protect their territory – in particular, food, shelter, and basking areas. They will also mark one another by tasting each others’ heads, shoulders, and pelvic girdle.

How Large Do Monitor Lizards Grow?

The size of a monitor lizard varies entirely according to their species. Some have long necks and snouts, and some short; some have long necks, and others barely have one at all. Their bodies also vary greatly in size – the largest living monitor lizard is the famous Komodo dragon, which can be found on several islands, including one named after the lizard itself – Komodo Island, in Indonesia.

Various factors contribute to a monitor lizards’ size. These include diet and nutrition, climate and habitat conditions. In general, male lizards will exceed female lizards in size.

Read our Reptile Terrarium Reviews

Taking Care of Your Monitor Lizard – Grooming

Unlike your standard household pet, monitor lizards don’t need to be groomed. Their skin falls off itself, just like you’ll see with other reptile skins, including snakes. It’s important that you furnish your water monitor cage with materials that will keep the nails trimmed.

Unlike dogs and cats, monitors do not require grooming. The right furnishings allow for the nails to keep from overgrowing. Dead skins come off of its itself due to the right furnishings and humidity. For breeding purposes, it is best if the animals are not handled and left to their privacy. Monitors display their superiority by rubbing their backs and or lying on top of them. In holding these animals one finds their skin to be warm and dry rather than wet and slimy.

Monitoring Your Lizard’s Hygiene

Excuse the pun. An essential part of grooming your monitor lizard involves checking it for parasites. This isn’t something to worry about, as long as they are treated. When you first obtain your water monitor, or if you haven’t done so already, take it to the vet to be examined. The vet will be able to kill the parasites with medications. In general, if you ensure that your lizard’s cage is kept clean, and the lizard stays well nurtured, taken care of, and well fed and groomed (as described above), you will help prevent a parasite infestation from recurring.

Do Monitor Lizards like to Be Petted?

This all depends on how domesticated they are. If born in captivity, or if a baby monitor lizard is adopted when young, they are easier to tame.  Regular human contact will help them grow on you – they typically enjoy being scratched under their chin, on their back, behind their ears, and on top of their head – just behind their eyes. If they start inflating their throats and hissing you’re doing something wrong. If they breathe deeply then they’re enjoying what you’re doing.

Are Monitor Lizards Dangerous?

Dogs may be known as “man’s best friend,” but some people prefer a different kind of companion–one of a scalier variety. An interesting choice for a pet that is growing in popularity in the United States is the monitor lizard. The trend seems to have started in southwest Florida’s Cape Coral area, and from there, the monitor lizard population exploded and spread across the rest of the state. The lizards have even found homes in such densely populated areas as Orlando.

Most of us have known a small reptile owner who has kept a frog, turtle, or even an iguana as a pet. Some may even consider these pets to be cute or intriguing, but the fact is that monitor lizards are not that easily domesticated, and they can be dangerous when forced to live in a human environment. While most pet lizards are small and can be kept in a small glass aquarium, monitor lizards can grow to humongous sizes, up to over 7 feet in length. Not only can these animals grow to be relatively large, depending on species, but they can be rather ferocious, to the point where some experts claim they are impossible to domesticate or tame.

While these intelligent, large creatures have become quite popular in the reptile pet trade, there are inherent dangers to owning them, and they are definitely not suited for the beginner reptile owner. In fact, many would recommend that no one should own one as a pet. As you will see, there are many dangers to owning a monitor lizard. If you are looking for companionship in a pet, a dog or cat may be a better alternative, because bonding with human beings is not generally in the monitor’s repertoire of characteristics.

How Do Monitor Lizards Defend Themselves?

Monitors are well adapted to their environment and well camouflaged, which helps them avoid potential predators. Snakes are considered to be the monitor lizard’s most feared predator. Young monitor lizards are able to rely on color and behavior for defense – they are more spread out than adults, and they are able to take cover more quickly and effectively.

Larger Lizards Defend Themselves in Different Ways Than Smaller Lizards

Larger lizard species, with fewer predators on their tail, will simply lie out in the open and cease to move when they spot a predator. However, if the predator comes close, they’ll take off in the opposite direction of the predator’s advance. An adult monitor lizard can go faster than the average human and most other lizards. Once they can, they will hide in burrows, trees, or even under water.

What are Monitor Lizard’s Defense Mechanisms?

When confronted monitor lizards try to puff themselves up as much as possible, making themselves appear larger and more threatening. They stand upright on all legs, puffing up their lungs, flattening their back, making a hissing sound, and some will also sway from side to side. As a final protective measure they open their mouths as far they can.

But will a monitor lizard actually attack if confronted? Yes! If approached, the monitor may lunge and attack. The monitor lizard is much like a momma Lion who’s babies are threatened, in that it will attack relentlessly.

The Monitor Lizard’s Aggressive Nature

When listing the dangers of keeping a certain animal as a pet, the physical dangers of the animal (such as their teeth or claws) are the obvious considerations. However, the most dangerous trait the monitor lizard possesses may be its aggressive and extremely ferocious personality. However, the monitor lizard cannot be tamed. The monitor lizard also knows no loyalty to its owner.

While the pit bull may often show aggression toward strangers or anything it deems to be a threat to its human companion, the monitor lizard feels no such allegiance and will violently turn on its owner just as easily as it would on any prey or outside threat it senses. It would be unwise to underestimate the physical danger this lizard poses to anyone it comes in contact with, as it is rather strong and supremely quick. That, coupled with the creature’s naturally aggressive tendencies, must be considered before a monitor lizard is taken in as a pet.

Video: Monitor Lizard vs Croc

Watch this two-minute video to see the monitor lizard and its aggressive behavior in action as it goes after a crocodile’s eggs.

Do Lizards Bite?

You might be wondering can lizards bite? Yes. But, while the lizard teeth of the monitor lizard are small, they are quite sharp. Therefore, monitor lizard owners must be constantly wary of their pet’s tendency to lash out and attempt to take a chunk out of them whenever the opportunity arises. As one monitor lizard owner relates,

Nile monitors are one of the most aggressive lizards found in the pet trade and do not make good pets unless you are a very experienced lizard keeper. I have a 5 ½-foot female Nile, which I like, but I don’t recommend them for most people. They are almost impossible to tame and will not hesitate to give you a very bad bite. I have had mine for over 5 years, and it still attempts to attack me every chance it gets. Savanna monitors are much easier, but no monitors are considered beginner lizards.”

Is the Monitor Lizard Venemous?

Many monitor lizard owners share similar experiences with their exotic scaly pets, and Nile monitors in particular will not hesitate to attempt to bite their caregivers. There is no denying that a bite from any species of monitor lizard can be downright painful, as monitors have been known to crush bones in humans.

Beyond the danger to the skin, bone, and surrounding tissue, monitor lizard bites are also venemous, resulting in swelling and excessive bleeding. Experts initially presumed that meat and other bits of food stuck between the lizard’s teeth carried dangerous strains of bacteria, causing such a reaction in those who were bitten; however, it was discovered a few years ago that this reaction is actually the result of venom that is unleashed when the lizard bites. This venom is not fatal to humans, but it can cause illness and pain.

The real danger in a monitor lizard’s venomous bite is for small animals or infants. The venom stops blood from clotting, causes a rapid drop in blood pressure, and heightens the pain associated with the bite. Researchers have even found that monitor lizard venom contains crotamine, the same poison found in rattlesnake venom. Though it should be noted that it is present in such small amounts that it is not fatal to humans, it is still a sobering thought. The monitor lizard’s venom acts as a sort of knockout punch to small mammals and birds, so if you have a small child or a cat, dog, or other pet, it would be unwise for you to adopt a monitor lizard.

The Monitor Lizard’s Tail and Claws

To go along with its venomous razor-sharp bite, the monitor lizard has other weapons at its disposal. On each of its paws are sharp claws used to grab and rip into its prey. While the risk of being sliced up by the monitor lizard is scary enough, its tail may be its most formidable weapon. The lizard’s tail is very muscular and can badly injure a person. If you are looking for a pet that you can pal around with or show off to your friends, the monitor lizard is a poor choice. As one monitor lizard owner relates:

“Monitors are NOT tame, and if you are lucky, you may be able to take your monitor out of the cage, but if you try to hold it, you will probably get bit[ten] or tail whipped. That [tail whip] can break your hand or take off fingers.”

The monitor lizard’s tail can account for more than half of the body’s total length, and the lizard is naturally disposed to use this formidable weapon with whip-like action. When confronted or even mildly agitated, the monitor will whip around with its muscular tail in an attempt to incapacitate its prey or any perceived enemy. When it decides to turn that tail on its human owner, it becomes a dangerous pet to own.

This natural weapon makes it easy to see why this lizard is not recommended as a pet in general and why even the most experienced reptile enthusiasts must be careful around such a powerful creature. For this reason, t is of utmost importance that the lizards are kept far away from other pets and small children.

The Diseases Monitors Carry

As we’ve already established, if you have small children or are planning to, a monitor lizard is not a wise pet choice for a variety of reasons, but there are other considerations as well. Most people are aware of salmonella, a disease that can make you very, very sick. Salmonella is a broad term that can encompass over 2,000 different kinds of disease-causing bacteria. You may think of it as something caused by bad food or an unhygienic lifestyle, but while this is true, reptiles (and other animals) are also major carriers of the disease. Monitor lizards in particular have been linked to a certain strain of salmonella.

Several years ago, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified a rare strain of salmonella called S. poano in the stool of an infant. A couple months before this discovery, a baby was brought to the hospital to be treated for bloody diarrhea, flatulence, and a temperature of 101 degrees. A stool sample was taken, and S. poano was found. The baby was treated with antibiotics and made a full recovery, but the doctors were baffled as to the original cause of the salmonella. The parents did not have the disease, and though the child attended a daycare center three times a week, none of the other students were symptomatic.

The doctors performed a home examination and found that the only pet living in the house during the time when the child became sick was a python. Doctors examined the snake and found no S. Poano present in the snake or its habitat. However, it was later discovered that a month before the child became sick, the family had been housing a 2-foot monitor lizard. The parents had returned the lizard to the pet store in exchange for the snake because the lizard suffered from chronic diarrhea.

Stool samples taken from the lizard revealed it to be the culprit. Though the baby was never allowed near the lizard and only the father cleaned the cage, the salmonella the lizard carried was still transferred to the infant. This was possible because of the method by which the cage was being cleaned. The cage was about waist high on the father, and he had to step into the cage to clean it. He did so in his bare feet, and when he stepped back out of the cage, he unwittingly tracked the disease throughout the house.

Another possibility was that the baby contracted the disease via the heat rocks, which the father cleaned in the kitchen sink and possibly caused contamination in an area where the family prepared food. S. poano was first discovered in Ghana, and during the time of this infant’s difficulties with it, the only other reported cases of human infection with that particular bacterial infection stemmed from human contact with Savannah monitor lizards.

As dangerous as it is, S. poano is not the only bacteria that monitor lizards carry. Import of monitors from places like Ghana is not carefully regulated, so there is no way to ensure that the lizard you select as a pet is not a carrier of any disease. In most cases, the lizards show no signs of disease themselves, but it is estimated that 90 percent of all reptiles are salmonella carriers. This is another serious danger of owning a monitor lizard, as it is estimated that up to 4 million cases of salmonella are contracted each year, resulting in 500 annual deaths.

Overpopulation & Other Monitor Lizard Dangers

In Florida, the Nile monitor lizard population is growing steadily. Despite efforts to control the population growth of the animal by trapping and relocating the creatures to more suitable environments, their presence in the state still continues to grow at an alarming rate. This may not seem to be a pet owner’s problem, but it is a direct result of carelessness on the part of monitor lizard owners, and it is a danger to society, particularly because the Nile monitor is one of the largest and most powerful species of monitor.

The problem with owning a monitor lizard as a pet often stems from the motives behind it. People often adopt “unique” or “exotic” animals on a whim, assuming it will be something they can talk about or show off to their friends. Surely, owning such an animal is a conversation starter. However, the problem with this impulsive attitude toward ownership of such a dangerous animal (or any animal, really) is that prospective owners do not take the time to make themselves aware of the responsibility involved. What many people do not realize when they purchase a monitor lizard is how large the creature may can grow to be, especially because they are so small when first adopted. The lizards grow incredibly fast; a Savannah monitor has been known to grow from 7 to 44 inches in the course of one year, requiring an 8’x4′ cage, and Nile monitors require double that amount of space.

Monitor lizards are also much more difficult to care for than other reptiles. Because of their high metabolism, they must be fed more often than other reptiles. This can be quite cost prohibitive, as the smaller monitor lizards may eat more than $40 worth of food daily, and larger monitor lizards eat much more. Whether it is because prospective monitor lizard owners fail to do the necessary research or because the vendors selling the lizards fail to inform prospective buyers, most people who purchase monitor lizards are unaware of these important facts and of the responsibilities that owning a monitor will entail.

Because new monitor owners are unaware of the dangers and responsibilities, they are often caught off guard once the animal begins to grow and behave in its natural way, and they look for a quick way to get rid of the animal. Sadly, the lizards are simply abandoned in local natural areas. This causes many problems for local wildlife, as the monitor lizard is very fertile, and its presence disrupts the delicate balance of certain ecosystems.

Experts claim that the monitor lizard is a tremendously fertile breeder. Females are known to lay up to 30 eggs at a time, once or twice per year. The Nile monitor lizard is a particularly ferocious carnivore and has become a major threat to many of Florida’s endangered species, including the endangered ground owl and the gopher tortoise. Because of the Nile monitor lizard’s appetite for eggs, it is a threat to the alligator and the American crocodile population, as their ground nests make easy targets for the lizard.

Due to of all of these factors, the monitor lizard has become a threat not only to their human owners, but also to the natural world in which they are abandoned. They are a danger to all who live in the regions where these lizards are being imported, not only to the natural wildlife that inhabits these areas, but also to the innocent pets, children, and even adults who call these places home.

Considering a Monitor Lizard As a Pet?

If you are considering owning a monitor lizard as a pet, you must be aware of the very apparent dangers. There is a risk to your health, as well as to the physical well-being of all other people and animals who live in your home and your area. It is not illegal to own a monitor lizard in most states, though many do require a permit to do so, so you are cautioned to pay attention not only to the safety concerns here, but also to the laws in your region. If you do decide to adopt a monitor lizard, be sure you are prepared to exercise extreme caution and that you are willing to keep and care for the animal for the duration of its life, which can last up to 10 years.

Learn more about other types of lizards in our archive of additional amphibians articles.

Have you ever seen a monitor lizard?

About The Author:

Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.

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October 6, 2019 12:28 am

Have one behind my bed in South Africa home. Wild. Was here when we bought this house. We cohabitat as he (probably male) has his own limited (by roof, wall and plasrerboard) space and can go out at any time. Not a pet as such but still learning how to handle it. All suggestions welcome.

September 7, 2019 10:29 am

I have female savanna monitor she always likes comming out and likes a stroke and to fall Asleep on me there is a bond there and I do keep an eye on her because like any animal can turn on u even if it’s a pet yes some monitor lizards are
very agressive but some arnt and some are quite docile depends on how much u tame them and what there personalty is like one savanna can be docile and another quite the opposite and Yr labeling them to all be like it and the there not venomous they carry as much salmonella as any animal and is safe as long as Yr disenfect Yr hands and areas iv never contracted salmonella since owning her I also have 2 lepoard geckos and 2 snakes but they are expensive to own and keep as need big enclosure and need very powerful heating and uv correct substrait and to keep humidity up this site is really bad miss information makes me Wonder if theve acally owned a monitor

September 2, 2019 2:56 pm

Monitors can and do form bonds with their keepers. They are no more ferocious than other predators. I would not say that they can be tamed in the way that most people might understand the word, but they can be socialized in a similar way that is done with parrots. They can also be trained.

Monitor Lizards range in size from the tiny to the giant. Some of the smallest species are successfully captive bred and are available from breeders around the world. I would never purchase from a pet store, only from a reputable breeder who keeps genetic records of the lineage of the animal.

Monitor lizards require a level of husbandry and care, socialization and training that is beyond the ability of most keepers. They require huge enclosures with very specific temperature and humidity management as well as varied diets of whole prey food. Keeping even the smallest species can be quite expensive.

Savannah monitors you see in PetCo and the like have been collected from the wild in their native Africa and are typically full of parasites or other infections. If they survive, they grow to large size and their active nature requires an extremely large enclosure, like an entire room.

For anyone contemplating keeping a monitor lizard, know that it will require as much care as one might give to a large parrot species. Monitor keeping is advanced reptile husbandry and requires deep knowledge, financial means and a 20 year commitment from the owner.

September 2, 2019 2:38 pm

Monitor lizards are not poisonous, not venomous. They have a mild anticoagulant in their saliva but it is not a venom nor a poison. The only venomous lizards are Heloderma species, Mexican Beaded Lizard and Gila Monster. Please stop spreading disinformation.

September 26, 2019 10:21 am
Reply to  AckieFriend

BS Ackiefriend Komodo dragons and pirenthi goanas are poisonous.

February 17, 2020 2:25 am
Reply to  Grant

Yes but not all monitors, specifically the Nile have been confirmed to contain venom so I think the author just needs to reword as people here in South Africa are posting her article and creating panic where there shouldn’t be.

Gordon Brown
August 23, 2019 9:18 pm

I have seen a Savannah Monitor in a Petco Pet Store. Not my idea of a good pet.

August 21, 2019 7:24 pm

That’s a photo of a dragon, not a monitor.

Sadie Cornelius
August 23, 2019 3:42 pm
Reply to  lindsey

Lindsey, thanks for letting us know we updated!

August 12, 2019 7:22 pm

Tyrannosaurus vision was NOT BASED ON MOVEMENT. That was something Michael Crichton included in the original Jurassic Park novel and rebuked quite emphatically in the second, which got carried over into the films because it made for good cinema. To quote the second novel directly: “Roxton believed that tyrannosaurs had a visual system like an amphibian: like a frog. A frog sees motion but doesn’t see stillness. But it is quite impossible that a predator such as a tyrannosaur would have a visual system that worked that way. Quite impossible. Because the most common defense of a prey animal is to freeze. A deer or something like that, it senses danger and it freezes. A predator has to be able to see them anyway.”
(“The Lost World”, Michael Crichton, 1995, pg 266 of my paperback edition, some unnecessary dialog omitted)

September 2, 2019 2:41 pm
Reply to  Joshua

Michael Crichton is not a scientist. Most predators’ vision is attuned to movement. For example, Komodo monitor lizards can see clearly up to 500 meters, but if an object does not move they have trouble tracking it visually. Monitor lizards are modern animals, they are not dinosaurs. Crocodilians, Turtles and Tortoises and Birds are much more closer to dinosaurs.

Poison is different than venom
August 4, 2019 6:02 am

Poison must be ingested where VENOM is injected.

There are a few species of snakes althat are poisonous. The birds or other animals that eat them will die from the poison.

I wish people would get this correct. Ugh

Melissa Fawn Bishop
June 8, 2019 5:23 pm

Tail whips of large monitors do not “break hands and take off fingers”, thats ridiculous. At worst the tail whip of a large, strong Varanus albigularis or Varanus salvator can raise a welt on your bare leg. Who makes up this stuff? Its true Nile monitors never get tame and are always aggressive. And a Crocodile monitor— well, you better have a fully stocked first aid kit in your lizard house. But many species, especially captive bred individuals become quite tractable.

Christine Graves
April 14, 2019 3:48 am

The fiction and creative writing show strongly in this article. Ridiculous!

Christine Graves
April 14, 2019 3:40 am

They’re not venomous. All reports carry salmonella, not just monitors. You have a prejudice or a serious need to sensationalize you need to get over! You clearly have never had experience with these animals and prefer urban myth to their reality. Retract your misinformation, you’re part of a big problem.

March 3, 2019 6:22 pm

Monitor venom?! Show me actual scientific publications that can prove they’re venomous… I’ve been bitten by my monitor a dozen times… Komodos have a nazzzty bacteria kid in their mouths that will eventually, if untreated, kill any other creature. But they’re not venomous. Stahpit.

September 2, 2019 3:27 pm
Reply to  TechSupport74

Actually, the bacteria and the venom hypotheses are false, regarding how Komodo monitors kill prey. They do it the way most apex predators do.

January 4, 2019 11:47 pm

My Savannah Monitor has ecaped and is in deep hiding…can find him.put out water..loud smelly food(eggs,meat) and heating lamp all out in middle of my apt. But he isn’t moving around or I’d hear him. My cat keeps watching the couch and the open faced closet behind the couch. She knows he is somewhere in there. Please help me get him to come out? I’m out of ideas. He is7-8 months old approx.18-20 inches long and he hasn’t ate or took water in over four days now. Thank you.

Christian Coan
November 26, 2018 12:12 am

I wouldn’t trust this site so much If they said a monitor bite can be poisonous

March 3, 2019 6:19 pm
Reply to  Christian Coan

Right?! There is no evidence that any monitor species is venomous. They don’t brush their teeth, so the infection resulting from a bite could be a problem, but not even remotely venomous…

February 1, 2019 3:46 pm
Reply to  Christian Coan

It actually is, they have poison in their teeth I think but it’s not very harmful to humans

November 25, 2018 2:02 am

I have an ackie monitor and he’s not dangerous in the least. He’s also very tame and a great pet. It’s important to distinguish between dwarf monitors such as ackies and something like a Nile monitor (not only large but notorious for their aggressive behaviour.)

September 2, 2019 6:06 pm
Reply to  Gayleen

Niles are much like any other large monitor,but they are not captive bred and almost always wild caught, so a very difficult animal to work with compared to a 3rd or 4th generation CBB monitor lizard sourced from a good breeder. Niles, of course, are very strong and can grow to over 2 meters putting it beyond the capabilities of most would be keepers. I have a pair of Ackies, too, and what wonderful pets they are.

November 24, 2018 3:13 am

Sorry for the typo guys I meant to say the Nile monitor is eating on its own and the nearest veterinary that deals with reptiles is hours away the temperature and humidity levels are exactly as what’s recommended any help is greatly appreciated thank you very much

November 24, 2018 3:11 am

I ordered a Nile monitor lizard last week and it arrived to me sick I have to force-feed it now it’s beating on its own but it appears to have an upper respiratory infection will my lizard be okay and yours that hours away any information or help will be greatly appreciated

Alex c
August 20, 2018 1:22 pm

Monitors are venomous, not poisonous. There is a big difference. Not differentiating between the two causes unnecessary confusion.

September 2, 2019 6:08 pm
Reply to  Alex c

They are not venomous. This is a myth. They do not produce venom, nor do they have fangs or specialized teeth to deliver said venom. The only venomous lizards are Heloderma species: Gila Monster and Mexican Beaded lizards.

March 3, 2019 6:27 pm
Reply to  Alex c


August 5, 2018 6:26 pm

I saw a monitor lizard inside my siblim bord ,what do I do to bring it out from there, I have applied sniper.wish it can go out of there, what do I do.

February 2, 2018 1:24 am

Hi, I’ve been reading about monitor lizards to see if I might want to have one as a pet. I kept reptiles as a boy and teenager, mainly rat snakes that I had caught and desert swifts I had bought at a pet shop. That all ended when I went away to college.

Since then I have had cats and dogs but now find myself living alone in a very small apartment. What draws me to monitor lizards are their intelligence and beauty. I intend to do diligent research for the next year before making a decision whether or not to actually own a monitor lizard. I am much more interested in observing their behaviour and hopefully being able to interact with them.

As my apartment is very small, I’m considering Ackie monitors. These are a species of dwarf monitor which can grow to adult size up to about 27 or 30 inches. Could you point me to websites or books with information on keeping these small monitor lizards? I would only aspire to good and responsible animal husbandry. Thank you.

February 26, 2018 2:23 pm
Reply to  Kevin

Hi, you might like to visit “”, there are quite a few experienced varanid keepers there who would be most willing to offer you some reliable advise!

January 20, 2018 1:57 pm

Hi, there is some quite inaccurate information contained in your article, it`s badly in need of correction (I would be happy to elaborate if you wish)?

Sadie Cornelius
January 22, 2018 11:14 am
Reply to  murrindindi

Sorry to hear and yes if you can provide the information we’ll take a look and update as we want to ensure our articles are as accurate as possible.

January 22, 2018 1:58 pm

Hi and thanks for your response. I’ll go through a few points: Varanids certainly do see in colour; they do not possess taste buds on the tongue, it is used mainly as a chemosensory organ, the scent particles are passed to the the Jacobsons organ in the roof of the mouth.
Even the largest monitor wouldn’t cost anything like $40 per day to feed!?
They do have a relatively high metabolism but in comparison to a similar sized mammal only require quite a small percentage of food (energy) and it`s extremely important to bear in mind that captives will normally receive a minimum amount of exercise therefore the amount of food offered should reflect that, they are prone to storing large fat bodies which in many cases they cannot possibly use causing many health problems (including an early death).
More to come…..

March 3, 2019 6:29 pm
Reply to  murrindindi

They’re also not venomous

Sadie Cornelius
January 26, 2018 12:36 pm
Reply to  murrindindi

Great thanks for sharing will update the article accordingly!

January 19, 2018 1:13 pm

How do they survive their climate

August 27, 2017 1:03 pm

My savannah monitors has moved her or his fake tree slowly over the past 4 days from one end of the tank to the middle then the side then next to the cave now inside of the cave why?

September 13, 2019 11:37 am
Reply to  Catherine

Maybe they think it’s food

February 15, 2017 5:37 am

Hi all…I just got a Nile monitor and I immediately liked owning one but I am not experienced enough to tame it….any tips on how to do that.

September 13, 2019 11:37 am
Reply to  mandla

they are never tame

Alex C.
June 13, 2017 4:57 pm
Reply to  mandla

Please refer to my youtube channel on Nile monitors. The channel is under Alex Crowder. That being said i do not suggest a Nile monitor as a pet. Its extremely unlikely that you will ever be able to tame it. Even if its “tame” it can and will confuse you for food eventually. Its just how Niles think. They extraordinarily prey driven predators and while they ARE extremely intelligent, they think about very little other than their next meal.

May 16, 2017 9:56 pm
Reply to  mandla

You don’t. Nile monitors will decide on their own whether to allow you to interact. However, putting them in a densely populated area of your home, not giving them a hide until they calm down a little, having a piece of clothing with your scent in their cage and constant interaction is great. Just remember they are cheap for a reason. A water monitor or even more so a savannah monitor is a much butter choice for a new monitor keeper.

January 20, 2018 2:04 pm
Reply to  Daniel

Hi, Varanus niloticus is no more defensive than many other species, and neither the Asian water monitor or the Savannah monitor are a “better” choice for a new keeper,

January 30, 2017 8:24 pm

Do you clean savannah monitors ears it’s a dumb question but my savannah monitor ear looks like it has blisters on it

William Sheppard
October 14, 2018 9:14 am
Reply to  Brianna

Hi Brianna. Quick answer about the ear cleaning is no. They have a clear membrane I.e. ‘blister’ that protects the hearing and inner ear. No worries