Savannah Monitor Lizard

The Savannah Monitor is a popular reptile pet. It is estimated to live about 10 years, has relatively easy habitat and care requirements, and with regular contact, can be exposed to regular handling and petting.

As such, they can grow up to 4 feet in length as adults, and although they may have modest habitat requirements, they will need a decent-sized tank that gives them plenty of room to move and turn around. If not treated regularly, the monitor’s sharp teeth and claws and whip-like tail can be very painful.

Read on to see if this lizard is right for you and what it takes to properly care for it.

reptile-dividerFast Facts about Savannah Monitor

Species name Varanus exanthematicus
Family Varanidae
Treatment Level Easy
Temperature 105°–110° F
Temperament Tame with handling, aggressive without
Color Shape Tan or gray, with red, orange, or olive highlights
Lifetime 10 years
Size Approximately 4 feet long
Diet Insects, mice, mice
Minimum Tank Size 8’x4’x3′
Tank Setting UVB, Heater, hygrometer, substrate, branch, hide, water plate
Suitability Low

Savannah Monitor Overview

savanna monitor

The Savannah monitor lizard is a monitor lizard. It is a medium species native to Africa and also known as the Bosc monitor, named after the French botanist who first described it.

Monitors are burrowing animals that usually live on the ground but can sometimes be found in bushes and the lower branches of trees.

This species is a skilled escapologist, and you must be careful to ensure that it does not escape from the tank you provide. It’s more common in sail-side tanks, but you might be surprised by the size of the hole the 4-foot lizard can traverse.

Like most monitors, the Savannah monitor is well equipped for defense. It has sharp claws, sharp teeth, and can also attack with its tail like a whip. As long as you regularly handle the lizard from a young age, it should accept human handling, but a lack of handling can mean that the monitor is aggressive. Pay particular attention if you adopt an older monitor and don’t want it as there’s a chance it will become aggressive.

Savannahs are considered good beginner lizard pets in several ways. It is smaller than most giant lizards and has relatively minimal maintenance and habitat requirements. However, the need for regular handling and some special care requirements make this lizard more suitable for those who keep other lizard species.

How Much Does a Savannah Monitor Cost?

The Savannah Monitor is a popular pet, and there are many people who keep it as a pet. Because of this, they can be pretty cheap, and you should be able to buy them for around $100. With a full tank and setup, required, expect to pay $500 or more initially.

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Ask at a pet and rescue store, as the Savannah starts out just a few inches long but grows to 4 feet in length as an adult. Some owners release them when they become adults and are too large to handle. If you adopt, make sure Savannah is friendly and has been dealt with.

Savannas that were once wild should not be kept as pets. They tend to be more aggressive and will never be tame enough to be kept in a cage.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

savanna monitor

With regular handling from a young age, the Savannah monitor will tolerate handling and some petting, though less likely to enjoy cuddling and cuddling. If they are not handled properly, they can become quite aggressive when they reach maturity, and they have the tools to cause injury to the handler.

Your monitor will probe its surroundings primarily using its tongue. He sticks his tongue out and back again to “taste” the environment, and you may feel his tongue flick against your skin.

Lizards can become aggressive if they feel threatened, although they also tend to hide or hide in their burrows. They will also shelter in their burrows if it gets too hot, and these diurnal animals are active during the day and rest at night.

Appearance & Variety

The savanna monitor lizard is classified as a medium monitor lizard and certainly smaller than the giant monitor lizard. However, their adult size sound can surprise some first-time owners when they see a young that is only 5 inches long.

It has a short neck and tail, a broad head, and is brown or gray in color with pale spots. It also has a distinctive forked tongue. They have more muscular necks and limbs, which are useful for digging and digging and giving them a distinct look compared to other related lizard species.

It is considered one of the more docile monitor lizard species and although they are considered small for this type of lizard, they grow much larger than other domesticated lizards such as geckos and bearded dragons. Their size is one reason why Savannahs may not be considered a good choice for amateur lizard owners. This is a species best left to those with experience with smaller lizards first.

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How to Care for Savannah Monitor

savanna monitor on rock with sand

The savanna monitor lizard is best described as an intermediate lizard. They are easier to care for than other monitor species, as they are the smallest, among the loudest, and have easier maintenance requirements than other monitors. However, they are much larger and more careful than small lizard species such as bearded dragons and geckos. If you are considering it, you will need the following settings.

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Habitat, Tank Conditions & Settings

A 50 gallon tank is large enough for a teenager, but it will only last for the first 6 months of ownership. At which point, you need to upgrade to a larger size and most owners simply go for the larger setup. In this case, the smallest recommended size is 8′ x 4′ and a minimum height of 3′. You can add a branch or two, but make sure the Savannah can’t escape through the tank cap.

Your monitor will be able to destroy a lot of things. Avoid tanks with screened walls and don’t give them unnecessary ornaments and other decorative items as they will only spoil and are of very little value.

Water Bowl

One of the most important additions to the tank is the large water bowl. The monitor will want to submerge its entire body. Some owners use cat litter trays because these provide sufficient space and must be waterproof.


savanna monitor

The tank should have an ambient temperature of between 95°F and 100°F with a basking spot as hot as 130°F. Temperatures should get cooler at night, with a chilly area of ​​75°F at night, which means you will need a thermostat. Although the lamp can provide heat during the day, you will need a ceramic heater for the night.


A UVB lamp with a 10 hour cycle will provide the lighting your lizard needs.


Monitors are diggers, so they appreciate being given adequate substrate to dig into. They like to dig as deep as 2 feet but avoid substrate that can cause impaction as Savannahs are prone to feeding on substrate as well as insects at dinner.

Are Savannah Monitors Friendly to Other Pets?

Savannah monitors tend to live alone due to the amount of space they need in their tank. However, if you have the room and you can provide a large enough arrangement, the male and female can live happily together.

Monitors can be very nervous and a little nervous. This can cause them to attack other animals including cats and dogs, and they are certainly large enough to cause injury or harm to the animal. They are very likely to attack other animals if they make noises or do anything else to startle the lizard.

What Feeds Your Savannah Monitor

two plush mice

Opportunistic carnivores will eat mice, rats, and lizards. Because they are opportunistic, this means they tend to gain weight, so you should monitor the amount you feed your lizards carefully.

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Juveniles will eat about one to four fluff or one small mouse, along with some insects.

Adults will eat two or three adult mice a week. Again, this must be complemented by insects.

Insects must be gutted and can include crickets as well as cockroaches and earthworms.

Keeping Your Savannah Monitor Healthy

You should try to find an exotics veterinarian with experience treating lizards. They will be able to spot symptoms of common ailments including parasites. Parasites are commonly found on captive monitors, and they can live on the monitor or on it, bleeding through their skin.

Other common ailments include respiratory infections and metabolic bone disease.

Ensure a good diet, keep the aquarium at the right temperature and humidity, and provide good calcium and vitamin D supplements to help prevent this common disease and to ensure the continued health of your monitor.


You will need more than a livable setting if you are to breed a Savannah. They will need more space and will especially benefit from having more substrate in which they can dig.

Mating pairs must be at least 18 months old and the female will need higher levels of calcium and vitamin D to ensure good egg development. Males and females must be separated after mating, which means you will need two separate, good-quality habitats.

The eggs must be removed and incubated, and you will need to provide neonatal care after the lizards hatch. Although monitors can hold up to 40 eggs, the relatively low retail value combined with the high cost of keeping a pair makes breeding a barrier for most monitor brooders.

reptile-dividerIs a Savannah Monitor Right For You?

The Savannah Monitor is described as the best monitor for novice owners, but is still best left to pet parents who have raised small lizards before. They may not grow as large as a water monitor lizard, for example, but can still reach 4 feet in length as adults. Similarly, they may not be as careful as some other monitor species, but they do need reliable and accurate heating, lighting, and humidity, and can become sick if they don’t enjoy the right habitat conditions in their aquarium.

Monitors are attractive and will tolerate handling, as long as they are handled from a young age, but if you’ve never had a lizard before, you might be better off choosing something like a bearded dragon, to make it easier for you to keep this unique breed of pet. .

Featured Image Credit: Cherdchai Chaivimol, Shutterstock

Savannah Monitor Lizard
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