6308 Monona dr., Monona WI 53516
ASIAN WATER MONITOR CaresheetCommon Name: Asian Water Monitor, Water Monitor, Sumatran Water Monitor
Scientific Name: Varanus salvator
Origin: Sri Lanka and eastern India to the Southeast Asian islands.
Size: 4' - 6'; 40 - 60 lbs.; males larger than females
Lifespan: 10 - 20 years
You will find many ways on the internet, on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of caring for this species.
Water Monitors are not for the beginner. They require a long-term commitment in both care and financial costs. Yet, these intelligent animals are worth the effort for those advanced herpers who know what is required of them.
Asian Water Monitors live up to their name in the wild, being semi-aquatic and very good swimmers. Habitat includes swamps, river banks, and other areas near bodies of water. They are good climbers too and can head up into the trees to escape danger..
They grow fast and will get quite large. We recommend starting out a baby monitor in at least a 24" x 18" x18" Exo Terra's Medium or Zilla's 20L critter cage both work. However, by the time they reach 1 year or so, you will need a large custom enclosure or DIY project. You should plan for this well in advance, even before you purchase your animal. Don't wait until they are already large.
At around six months, an enclosure of 6'x 3' x 3' works well. At one year, (it's possible for your monitor to be 4-5 feet at this point.) move up to at least 8' long x 4' deep x 6' high. That's the minimum size. Consider well ahead of time where you will place this enclosure in your house. If you choose the basement or garage, understand that the enclosure must be keep at proper temperatures. Or you can turn a spare room into an enclosure it's self.
Monitors are strong and have powerful muscular bodies. Make sure your homemade project is well-constructed and secure. Because of their size, water monitors need spacious enclosures. They like secure branches for climbing on and for basking. Also plan for a large container or area of water that allows them soak their entire body.
A good rule of thumb is to have an enclosure at least 1 1/2 times the length of your monitor, including tail. They are active and smart. Error on the side of more room not less, and you and your monitor will be much happier.
LIGHTING & TEMPERATURES
Monitors are quite hardy creatures. However, like all reptiles, they are dependent on thermoregulation to control their body temperature. This essentially means you need to provide a hot and a cool side to your enclosure. All the heat elements should be on one side and the other will be the cool side. This way your monitor can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs. A basking area of 120-150 degrees should be provided. The rest of the enclosure can be in the 80s-90s range. At night, temps can drop to as low as 72 degrees. Use a good quality temperature gauge, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer. Don't guess. The easiest way to increase the heat in your enclosure is with a Reptile basking bulb and/or an Exo terra or Zoo Med heat pad.
There is some controversy on whether monitors need UVB lighting. We suggest using UVB lighting to help them absorb calcium and to synthesize vitamin D3. Since they are not out in natural sunlight in our homes, we must provide UVB light in the form of a special fluorescent bulb designed to produce UVB rays. The best bulbs are the mercury vapors such as Exo Terra's Solar Glo bulbs, ZooMed's Powersun, or Solar bright bulbs. These provide heat and UVB all in one bulb. You can also use separate basking (heat) bulb and UVB bulbs. If you use these, you'll want the Zoo Med 10.0 or Exo Terra UVB 10.0 variety.
As mentioned above, provide your monitor with a large container of water that allows them to get their entire body in. Keep the water fresh because your pet will soak and drink everyday, and they might defecate or kick bedding into it. Scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up. Exo Terra bowls or Flukers rock dish are nice naturalistic non-porous water bowls for babies. You will have to make something
Asian Water Monitors need a substrate that holds humidity. You can create this by having deep bedding and misting it. So even if the top dries out, the lower layers remain moist. Another option is to provide a humid hide for your lizard. This is a hide with some wet moss or jungle mix inside. It's not easy to find a hide for a large Water Monitor without making it yourself but our jumbo reptile hide box will work for a awhile.
Water Monitors are quick hunters and opportune scavengers, eating insects, mollusks, fish, amphibians, rodents, small mammals, bird eggs, and other reptiles--just about any animal they think they can swallow. Young monitors are better fed every day and do well on bugs, fish, frogs and occasional pinky rodents. Adults can be fed every other day on a much wider diet. Don't always feed them the same thing. As far as to how much to feed, make sure your lizard has a little bit of a rounded belly after it has eaten. When you are feeding bugs or other meat that is not a whole animal, you will need to supplement with calcium such as Zoo Med calcium with D3 or Repashy calcium plus.
You can feed in the cage or out. If inside the cage, do not hand feed your monitor. Rather, put the food on a plate or dish. You don't want your lizard associating your hand with food.
Live bugs: crickets, dubia roaches, mealworms, hornworms, etc
Canned insects, snails
Mice/rats of appropriate size (live or frozen/thawed)
Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs
Chicken organ meats
Repashy grub pie
Repashy meat pie
Asian Water Monitors are quite intelligent and can become very friendly and even seek out human affection. Baby monitors, being small, are naturally a bit nervous. You are large and scary to them. However, water monitors are very curious. So just be patient and consistent with your handling. Start slow and get them used to your presence. With patience, they can be very friendly and some will even become quite attached to you.