6308 Monona dr., Monona WI 53716
NILE MONITOR CaresheetCommon Name: Nile Monitor
Scientific Name: Veranus niloticus
Origin: Central and soutern African continent, plus along the Nile River in Egypt.
Size: 5' - 7'
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.
Nile Monitors are not for the beginner. They require a long-term commitment in both care and financial costs. Only advanced keepers should consider having them.
Nile Monitors are semi-aquatic and are never far from permanent bodies of water in the wild.
They grow fast and will get quite large. We recommend starting out a baby monitor in at least a 3' x 2' x 2' tank. Exo Terra's Large low or Zilla's 40 gal critter cage both work. However, by the time they reach 1 year, you will need a larger 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 too large.
At around six months, an enclosure of 6'x 3' x 3' works well. At one year, move up to at least 8' long x 6' deep x 6' high. 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.
Monitors are strong and have powerful muscular bodies. Make sure your homemade project is well-contructed and secure. Because of their size, water monitors need spacious enclosures. They like secure branches for climbing on and for basking. They also need a large container of water.
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. As your pet gets larger, you can start letting him out of the enclosure for some "roaming" time.
LIGHTING & TEMPERATURES
Nile 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 110-130 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 150 variety.
As mentioned above, provide your monitor with a large container of water. They drink a lot and they do like to soak or play in the water sometimes. 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.
Nile 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 awhile.
Nile 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 crickets, roaches, and other bugs. Adults can be fed every other day on a wider diet of pre-killed rodents, fish, birds, eggs, etc. 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
Nile Monitors are quite intelligent. However as mentioned above, they are not for the beginner. Once they reach puberty, their hormones kick in and can become aggressive. A lot of people think they can tame a nile monitor. However, it's extremely rare to have a nile that is tame (after babyhood) and enjoys human contact. They never become "dog tame" like some monitors. Only people with advanced reptile skills should consider keeping them.