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Mangrove Monitor (Varanus indicus) Care Sheet

Mangrove monitors are found throughout the costal areas of New Guinea, Australia, and a number of Pacific islands.  These lizards are closely related to the blue tail monitor and the peach throat monitor.  Each of the three species of these monitor lizards utilizes different habitats in their range.  Mangrove monitors are very adaptable and can be found in many different types of forests.  They are most likely to be found near some type of saltwater forest and are excellent swimmers.  Wild mangrove monitors will typically eat frogs, lizards, insects, crabs, fish, and any small animal they can overpower.  Adult male mangrove monitors are noticeably larger than females and adults can reach 3-5 feet in total length.  With proper care mangrove monitors can live 10-15 years in captivity.  Like most monitors, mangroves are nervous captives at first but tame down fairly easily.  Ideally, the cage should include multiple hiding spots to provide a sense of security. 

Temperature and UV Lighting

     Mangrove monitors should be maintained between 85-90 degrees with a basking spot of 95 degrees. At night the temperature can drop to 75 degrees. Hours of daylight should be 12L/12D during a 24 hour period.  Humidity should also be maintained at 70%-90%.  UVB lighting is not a must for monitors, but is recommended.  UVB lighting enables reptiles to metabolize calcium, by creating Vitamin D3. However, because their diet consists of rodents and other live prey, they can usually receive enough D3 and calcium through their diet. The bones of the prey will provide calcium, while the liver will provide Vitamin D3. Also it is very important to change your UVB light every 6-8 months, after this time the light stops producing adequate UVB.  If you’re not sure if your UV light is still producing UVB, bring it in and we’ll be happy to test the light for you.

Housing

     Baby mangrove monitors can be kept in a 29 gallon cage but they grow quickly and will soon need larger housing.  Adult mangrove monitors should be kept in a cage that is at least 6’ x 2’ x 4’.  These lizards are excellent swimmers and a large water bowl so they can completely submerge themselves is highly recommended. 

Bedding

     Our recommendation for bedding is bark or coconut bark, this bedding holds moisture very well and duplicates their natural environment. 

Food

     Mangrove monitors are opportunistic hunters and are known to eat almost anything.  Ideal foods are; mice, rats, fish, crawdads, crickets, superworms, nightcrawlers, beef heart, and hard boiled eggs.  A mixed diet of these food items, four to five times per week, will ensure proper growth and health.

Calcium

     A calcium and vitamin supplement should be put on all food that does not contain bones. When feeding your monitor mice, rats, or fish, no supplement is needed.