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If you missed the SHS March 6th meeting, you missed one fantastic talk.  That night we had the privilege of hosting guest speaker Greg Bryant from Underground Reptiles and his lovely wife, Lia Bryant.  The subject: Captive Care and Maintenance of Monitor Lizards of the Family Varanidae.

Captive care and breeding of these exquisite creatures can be quite challenging and varied.  Sizes range from barely 8 inches overall length for the Australian short-tailed monitor (V.brevicaudea) to the enormous Indonesian Komodo monitor (V.komodoensis), who achieves a body length of 10 feet and above.  Likely, most of us would prefer something in between.

Some of the beautiful species Greg had on hand were as follows: For the first time herper, Greg mentioned the Savanna monitor is an excellent choice.  Achieving a total length of approximately 3 to 3 ½ feet, this monitor is quite easy to work with.  Requiring an arid environment, it should be supplied a basking site with a temperature of 100?F.  Also, having a high metabolism, they should be feed frequently; two to three times a week for adults and daily for babies. 

Another popular species on the market is the Dwarf Ridge-Tail monitor.  Fully mature at 18 months of age, it reaches a total length of only 18 inches.
While easy to house and breed, it does require high temps of 100? and a UV of 5.0 to 7.0.

Greg next displayed a Black Tree Monitor (V.beccarii).  Native to Indonesia, this species has a long slender prehensile tail.  With a maximum length of 24 inches, about 60% of its overall length is in its tail.  This species requires high humidity and subsists on a diet of insects, small rodents and egg yolks.  For those desiring to breed this species, the time is early spring to late summer.  Branches are also required with a high nest box as they will not breed on the ground.

The Timor monitor (V.timorensis) was another very attractive species.  Like the Black Tree monitor, Timor monitors reach a maximum length of 24 inches.  Greg related an interesting experience in a breeding pair. Maintained in a 4X4 enclosure, the result of the breeding venture was zero breeding activity and thus no egg production.  Eventually the animals were removed to a smaller environment (a 20 gallon aquarium).  The result was an almost instant interest in breeding.

Spectacular as hatchlings, with fire-orange heads and yellow stripes on a black overall body, the Dumerils monitor (V.dumerilii) from Thailand was another excellent choice.  Though the color soon fades, Dumerils have a good disposition and are easily cared for.  Being semi aquatic in nature, feeding can include crabs, bait shrimp, fish, mice and turkey.  Reaching sexual maturity at 2 years of age and 3 feet, Dumerils can have a good size clutch of eggs.  Greg knew of 2 clutches of 16 to 20 eggs.

Next Greg displayed an unusually marked Nile monitor.  Common to the pet trade, and known for its aggressive disposition, the Nile monitor requires a good size enclosure, as females reach 4 to 4 ½ feet and males 6 feet in length.  Interestingly, Greg mentioned that recent studies have suggested that sex in Niles may be determined months after birth.  Recently a group of 30 babies were dissected following birth.  The result was no apparent sexual organs, thus suggesting gender may be determined by population density; lone individuals almost always being male.

For anyone desiring more information on monitors, Greg suggested a publication, The Natural History of Monitor Lizards” by Harrold F. DeLisle.

Up to a real challenge?  Why not try breeding and maintaining monitor lizards?  SHS would like to thank a special note of thanks to Greg and Lia for taking time out of their busy schedules to share with us the wealth of knowledge and experience on this fascinating subject.


· April 6th, 2002 will be the SHS annual picnic at Snyder Park Pavilion 15.  The picnic will run from 11AM to 5PM.  Don’t forget to bring your appetite.  Also included at the picnic will be the semi annual auction.  Anyone having something they would like to donate for the auction, should see our President, Gary DiPalma.

· May 19th will be the date for the SHS Reptile and Amphibian Fair at Fern Forest Nature Center.
SHS meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Fern Forest Nature Center at 201 Lyons Road in Coconut Creek at 7:30PM.

For more information, please visit our web site at
Submitted by Vince Mastroeni, Board Member 

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