Nile Monitor

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Species group:

Scientific name: Varanus niloticus

The basics:
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

Nile Monitor Behavior Tip

Nile Monitor

From sdflores Nov 5 2014 4:03PM


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