The Savannah monitor is native to the savannahs of eastern and southern Africa. In the wild these monitors are scavengers covering large distances as they search for small prey items. Savannah monitors in the pet trade are either wild-caught or captive-raised.
Color, Size & Life-span
Savannah monitors are tan to gray with a lighter pattern on the back, sides, and anterior tail. Adult size can be quite variable. Some individuals reach 2.5 ft (0.8 m) while others exceed 4.5 ft (1.4 m) and can even reach 6 ft (1.8 m) or more. Savannah Monitors usually live 5-10+ years.
The Savannah monitor is a carnivore. Offer gut-loaded insects such as large crickets, superworms, king mealworms, silkworms, grasshoppers, cockroaches, as well as crayfish and other low-fat foods like cooked egg whites or Egg beaters®. Mice or rats may be offered, but only occasionally to reduce the risk of obesity. Dust the non-breeding adult’s diet with a calcium carbonate or calcium gluconate supplement once weekly. Calcium supplements should be devoid or low in phosphorus with a minimum Ca:P ratio of 2:1. Avoid products containing Vitamin D as this can lead to toxicity. A general vitamin/mineral supplement may also be offered once weekly. Adults may be fed 2-3 times weekly. Savannah monitors can be voracious eaters. Therefore if they have bedding that is bite sized they may get a mouth full when trying to grab their food. If your savannah will be enjoying his dinner on his bedding, choose a bedding that will not cause an impaction. A more natural bedding that they can burrow in is best. Paper towels, butcher paper, towels, repti-carpet, felt and other easily cleaned and changed, flat bedding options are best for messy savannahs.
Cage Size & Design
Savannah monitors are active lizards. Adults require very large enclosures (i.e. 6 x 3 x 6 feet or 1.8 x 0.9 x 1.8 m) so custom built cages are often needed. Provide a minimum of 100 square ft (30 sq m) floor space. Screen sided enclosures will be shredded so glass or Plexiglas housing is best. Make sure the cage has a secure lock and a place for heat lights and UVB lighting on top. Provide a good soil and sand mixture for them to burrow in (a recommended 24 inches of the soil and sand mixture for a full grown savannah) as well.
Cage Furniture & Supplies
Provide full-spectrum lighting for optimal absorption of dietary calcium as well as hid boxes at both ends of the temperature gradient. These bulbs should be changed every 6 months, even if the light doesn’t burn out, since the invisible UVB rays expire. A hygrometer should be visible to properly monitor humidity in the enclosure. Provide a gradient in the soil of almost 100% humidity and try to keep it above 60% in the coolest part of the cage. It is ok to have a lower hygrometer reading in the basking area
Strive for 85-90°F (29-32°C) with a basking area that reaches 94-100°F (34-38°C). Temperature should drop to 74-78°F (23-26°C) at night. UVB lighting is necessary for almost all lizards. A high percentage UVB output bulb (8-10%) should be on for a 10-12 hour cycle daily to mimic the sun. Water & Humidity Provide fresh drinking water daily as well as access to a larger soaking tub at least 1-2 times weekly for several hours. Strive for 40-50% relative humidity, which may be achieved by light misting of the cage. Also offer a moist hide area.
Regular handling will make Savannah Monitors tamer, but like all monitors, if they are not a captive bred baby or are not handled often they can become aggressive.