Species group: Monitor Lizards
Scientific name: Varanus niloticus
One of the world’s largest and most formidable lizards, the Nile Monitor makes a fine zoo exhibit but is far too large and dangerous for most private collections. It is a species best left to zoos or very serious, experienced, adult keepers with a great deal of space, time and money to spare.
The Nile Monitor is found throughout almost all of Sub-Saharan Africa, and also ranges north into Egypt along the Nile River. Feral populations are also established in Florida, USA.
This semi-aquatic giant may be encountered almost anywhere that permanent water sources exist, including grasslands, scrub forest, wet forest edges, canal banks, mangrove swamps, marshes and waterways within quite busy villages.
Appearance / health:
Mature males may reach 2 meters (6.5 ft) in length. The head is long and snake-like, the muscular, gray-brown body is marked with bands of yellow spots, and the long tail is laterally compressed.
Nile Monitors are hardy when provided proper care and may top 20 years of age. Respiratory ailments and digestive tract diseases can take hold if they are kept at sub-optimal temperatures. Metabolic bone disease is common in youngsters that are not provided with ample calcium and/or UVB exposure.
Behavior / temperament:
While these intelligent creatures can become quite responsive, they cannot be “tamed” and can inflict severe, permanent injuries with their teeth, tails, and nails. Nile Monitors are not suitable pets for children or novices.
An enclosure measuring at least 15 x 15 feet, and preferably much larger, is essential for housing an adult. A large, drainable swimming area and floor drain is essential.
While Nile Monitors have been kept successfully without UVB exposure, providing such is preferable. They require a temperature gradient of 78-88 F, and a basking temperature of 100 -120 F. Slate should be placed under the basking lamp to provide an extra-warm (to 130 F) area.
Nile Monitors are active, intelligent reptiles, and should be provided opportunities to search through decaying logs, soil, and leaf piles for live invertebrates.
The natural diet is highly varied, and includes lizards, snakes, fish, large invertebrates, birds and their eggs, small mammals, frogs and carrion.
Young Nile Monitors should be fed near-daily meals of roaches, crickets, locusts, earthworms, and small mice. Adults fare well on mice, rats, and fresh water fish.
Pairs must be watched closely, as copulation is accompanied by a good deal of biting. Clutches contain 10-60 eggs, which may be incubated in a mix of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water (by weight) at 85-88 F for 5-9 months.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
exciting animal, amazing display animal, healthy lizard, excellent captive reptile, amazing sights
powerful bite, TERRIBLE temperament, nasty bite, aggressive tendancies, large size, good tail whip
good substrate, high protein diets, water tub
From Kacie Bingham Sep 29 2017 6:18PM
Magnificent Creatures - to Observe in Zoos or the Wild!
After a lifetime of working with reptiles in zoos and the wild, my best advice to those who would like to keep one of the world’s largest and most formidable lizards as a pet is “do not”! While there’s no denying that they are highly intelligent and able to respond (in some ways) to their keepers, Nile monitors are capable of severely injuring, and in some cases killing, their owners. They can in no way ever be considered “tame” or worthy of one’s trust, as might a domesticated mammal, and YouTube videos and such to the contrary should be ignored.
Of course, the practical considerations involved in keeping a 5-7 foot long, carnivorous aquatic reptile in anything but an enclosed outdoor swamp will (or should!) dissuade most potential owners. Unfortunately, hatchling Nile monitors that fit into 50 gallon aquariums are inexpensive and readily available. Please do not be tempted – even on poor diets, they grow at astonishing rates, and no matter how special you might consider your pet to be, no zoo or nature center will accept it, and release is unethical and illegal.
Nile monitors are quite easy to observe and study in many zoos and, from a safe distance, throughout much of Africa – please limit your interactions with them to these forums!.
From findiviglio Nov 11 2015 3:51PM
Mean Old Mony
Oh Mony!! I got Mony as a rescue she was about 2 years old, we assumed, and she was meaner that a wet hen. She was a Nile Monitor lizard and my understanding from having briefly dealt with a couple other folks of this species is that all tend to be a little on the mean side. The Nile Monitor is a big dude and a big problem in Florida right now. It's another invasive species and is particularly alarming because they have no specific habitat. They are incredible swimmers and they love nothing more than a meal consisting of an abandoned nest full of eggs. Which is not good for Florida because we already have a huge problem with saving the sea turtle nests. This lizard is probably not gonna make a good pet unless you have a lot of patience, a large space and a twisted sense of humor. These lizards grow to be typically around 5 or 6 feet long but can get to over 7 feet and they way about 20 to 30 pounds. They love to swim! I wouldn't recommend taking them to the pool as the general public is a little hesitant to swim with a six foot lizard from my experience, but if you live near the ocean or lake that is perfect for these guys. It's about the only time I didn't feel like Mony wanted to kill me. These lizards have super sharp teeth and I'm not sure if I mentioned it but their mean! Ok well maybe not mean but they are ill tempered and they don't like to be messed with much, they are extremely strong and they require a lot of work to tame them. For the most part you will be able to feed them the same food you would feed snakes, assuming you're like me and just have various reptiles around the house, this comes in handy. However, their habitat for adults is very large. Essentially they need a bedroom. You will need to keep one end of the room at normal room temperature but one area will need to have heat lamps or something to keep it around 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Honestly if you are a lizard lover this lizard is not a bad one to have. It just requires someone that is skilled with reptiles and has the patience and skills to train them. I boarded Mony for about a year until we found her a home and the new owner has taught her amazing things and would probably have a much more flattering review. That being said I am a skilled reptile owner and have had several different breeds of lizards, snakes, etc. and this lizard was too much for me to handle so if you are new to the reptile kingdom, don't make this your first. As with so many reptiles in Florida this guy is considered invasive and as such is not only destroying our indigenous population but most unfortunately it has created a lot of unnecessary deaths in Nile Monitors for the sake of population control. Please don't contribute to this problem..
From sdflores Nov 5 2014 4:03PM