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Reptile Rapture
6308 Monona dr, Monona WI 53516
608-221-0094, www.reptilerapture.net


Common Name: Black Roughneck Monitor
Scientific Name: Varanus rudicollis
Origin: Southeast Asia
Size: 4' to 4.5' head to tail, max. 5'
Lifespan: 15-20 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 breeding and caring for this species.

In the wild, the natural habitat for Black Roughneck Monitors is rainforest near permanent bodies of water and mangrove swamps. They are arboreal, spending much time dwelling up in the trees. However, they also forage on the ground and in shallow waters.

They are an intermediate care reptile and will need a very large and tall custom enclosure when they are adults. Young Roughnecks can be kept in something like an Exo terra 36" x 18" x 36" for about the first 6-8 months of life.

Note: You cannot keep them from growing by housing them in a small cage. That's a myth. It won't make for a happy, well adjusted lizard.

After your Black Roughneck Monitor out grows its starter enclosure, or if you begin with one 6 months or older, you need to have a larger custom enclosure. We don't recommend screen enclosures for monitors as it is very difficult to keep the humidity right. Adult Roughnecks need an enclosure of no less than 6' wide 2' deep and 6' high. There are many suggestions online for making an enclosure. If you have space, go bigger. Designing an enclosure for your Black Roughneck Monitor can be fun. Add branches or structures for climbing on. They will also appreciate horizontal shelves or wide logs. They don't always want to have to cling on to something vertical.

For substrate, you want something that holds humidity well, like Zilla jungle mix or Zoo med eco earth. If your monitor uses the water bowl as a bathroom spot, you will need to change the water out everyday.

Black Roughneck Monitors are best on their own or in male female pairs. Multiple males will fight, especially if females are present. We have noticed in our collection, that multiple females can also show aggression towards each other. The dimensions for enclosures listed above are based on one animal. If you have two, increase the size.


Black Roughneck Monitors come from a tropical rainforest climate. They need a basking area and a cooler section within the enclosure so they can regulate their body temperature. All the lighting and heat elements should be located on one side and the other will be the cooler side.

A basking area of 95-120 degrees should be provided. The rest of the enclosure can be in the 80-85 range. At night, temps can drop to as low as 80 degrees. Use a good quality temperature gauge, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer.

In addition to heat, monitors need UVB lighting to help absorb calcium and to synthesize vitamin D3. Since they are removed from natural sunlight in our homes, we must provide UVB light in the form of a special fluorescent bulb designed to produce UVB rays. Do not use heat rocks. They need the whole environment to be warm, not just a small area like a hot rock. Black Roughnecks are especially adapted to basking, getting heat from above.

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 will want the Zoo Med 5.0 or Exo Terra UVB 100 variety.

Always provide a nice sized water dish with fresh water. Remember to change the water once a day, especially since your monitor may use it as a bathroom spot. Also scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up.

Maintain humidity around 70-80%. Unless you are in a very dry area, misting the enclosure a few times a day will usually provide enough moisture. A nice humidity gauge can help you in this area. Hand misters are usually sufficient, but if you don't want to hand mist, an automatic mister like the Exo Terra monsoon, Reptile fogger or Zoo meds reptifogger are a nice options. Exo terras reptile fountain provides bubbling water which also helps to raise humidity levels. Exo Terra bowls, Flukers rock dish are nice naturalistic non-porous water bowls.

Black Roughneck Monitors are mostly insectivores. If your adult has good body weight, you can feed every other day. Variety is important. Don't feed them the same things each day. They can get bored and picky if you do. Mix it up.

Feeding Recomendations:
Feeder bugs: crickets, dubia roaches, grasshoppers, hornworms and other feeder bugs.
They will also eat rodents, chicks, and ducklings. Use sparingly - not more than 1x a week.

Make sure to dust your monitor's bugs with calcium and vitamins such as Repashy calcium plus or Rep-cal calcium with D3.

Black Roughnecks are intelligent, and can make great pets. However, they are not for everyone. Baby monitors usually do not bite, but excessive handling should be avoided until your lizard gets used to you. Your first impulse will be to hold your new monitor and pet it. We strongly suggest you do not do this. It takes time to tame your lizard. The best way is to be patient and proceed slowly.

Place your monitor enclosure in an area where it can see you moving about. Let it watch you put food in the enclosure. Talk to your pet, let it hear your voice. You can change the water, spot clean the enclosure, do busy work near the monitor. Read, work on computer, etc., but do not pick it up or try to touch it at this time. Why? You are letting the Roughneck get used to you, your movements and your voice in a nonthreatening manner. Monitors are curious animals, and once they get used to you,  they will start staying out rather than hiding when you are around. That's the first step.

Black Roughneck Monitors are very food oriented, and if they see you as the food giver, they will start to trust you sooner. Once they get over their nervousness, they will be bolder and soon will start to come to you when you bring food. Eventually, your monitor might jump onto your hand or arm when you are reaching in the enclosure to do something. Success! Now is the time to start interacting more with it. Let it stay on your arm, talk to it, gently try to pet it on the back or side. Remember, let your lizard come to you. Eventually, your monitor will trust you and coming running when you approach to the enclosure.

Have patience. In some cases, this taming process can take weeks or months. Remember, your Monitor can live 15-20 years so this part is truly worth the effort. They take some work and are not immediately tame like a bearded dragon, but they are worth the extra effort.