Sav Care for Dummies
This is a simple to read care sheet for Varanus Exanthematicus , also known as a Bosc Monitor and a Savannah Monitor. This can also be used for Varanus Albigularis. Also known as a White Throat, Black Throat and Banded Cape Monitor.
For some reason, most of these lizards are impulse buys. 99.9% of these animals are wild caught and in bad shape when bought. For some reason (I blame petstore clerks for this) a lot of people think savannah means desert, when in fact they are semi arid grassland monitors.
Before purchasing any of these animals I recommend some serious research. Read books, go to forums and read and ask questions.
A good place to start is at
If you are getting a sav there are a few things you must have.
1. Vet. you will need to find a qualified reptile vet near you. Since your new lizard is more than likely wild caught, a vet visit is in order. Take a poo sample with you. Just because the ad in the yellow pages says exotic pet doesnít mean they have any idea what to do with a monitor. Exotic pets usually means birds and ferrets. Call and ask for references.
2. Room. You will need a place to build a large, sturdy enclosure. Although I start all my babies in 40 gallon breeders. For a single adult sav I recommend atleast a 3X6X3 but the bigger the better. I have 3 in a 12X4X3 enclosure An albig needs a minimum of 4X8X4.
3. Proper substrate is a must. I use yard dirt and highly recommend it, as long as it is free of pesticides and fertilizers. If good yard dirt isnít available to you, Cypress Mulch will work although it wonít hold a burrow. You can also go to Lowes or Home depot and get some playsand, peatmoss and non-organic topsoil and mix it to get the right feel. Make it about 2 feet deep.
4. Temp gun. You can order these from Pro Exotics.com . You will need one of these to set your basking site up properly. I recommend the surface temperature be around 130 degrees.
Basking spots are easy to set up. Just build a sturdy platform with plywood and raise it or lower it to get the desired surface temps.
5. A digital thermometer with a probe and a humidity read out. This will allow you to properly set your temps. Remember, your lizard needs to cool of as much as it needs to warm up.
I keep my hot side at 90 degrees while my cool side is around 75 degrees and humidity between 45 and 60%.
You can adjust the temps and humidity by adding vents or just drilling holes or blocking them.
6. Lights. In my opinion UV and UVB is not needed. I recommend 45 to 65 halogen watt flood lights. Do not use the lights with the clear center. These can cause a small,very hot beam that can burn your lizard.
7. Food. You will need lots and lots of food. I feed my monitors crickets, roaches, chicken peeps, quail, crawdads and lots and lots of mice. I dust all the bugs with Zoo Medís Reptivite and Miner-All. Both are quality supplements and have calcium and D-3.
8. Water. You will need a large tub of water. Your lizard will drink this water, soak in this water and some will even swim in it, and almost all will poo in it. This needs to be changed daily
9. Hide spots. For you lizard to be stress free it needs a safe place to hide. A tight hide is a good hide. It also needs to be set up where you canít see in it. You can make these out of almost anything. I have one sav that will just dig a burrow and use it as a hide. I have another that likes to squeeze between some broken cinderblocks, sometimes squeezing under some wood I laid on the dirt and another that favors a taped up shoebox filled with cypress mulch. I give them a lot of choices to pick from. Never pull them from their hide. If you do they wonít fill safe and secure and that my friends is the whole purpose of a hide.
10. Patience. This is necessary for your lizard to be accustomed to itís new home. Give it atleast 2 weeks to get comfy before handling. Change the water, offer food and do basic maintenance and let it get used to the idea that the big ugly creature (thatís you) isnít going to harm it. I donít go for all the handling , but my lizards trust me and I can move them from their cages without too much fuss. I have never been bitten by a monitor (not that they havenít tried) When I do handle them for vet visits and major cage cleaning, I do it slowly and gently.
I have one sav that will climb in my hand if I put it down in front of him.
11. Furniture. You need things in the cage that will give your lizard things to explore. I use driftwood, large rocks and broken cinderblocks. I use these for a couple or reasons and the first one is they are all free if you know where to look. Another reason is itís fun to rearrange the cage to watch them explore it all over again. If you would like to see an active lizard, furniture is a must.