Rough-Neck Monitor (Varanus rudicollis) Care Sheet

Rough-neck monitors are found in Borneo, Sumatra, southern Thailand, and Malaysia. They inhabit tropical rainforests and are more active during the rainy season.  Wild rough-neck monitors will typically feed on insects, frogs, lizards, and any small animal they can overpower.  They are a medium sized monitor and adults reach 3-4 feet in total length.  These lizards are semi arboreal and usually hunt for food on the ground and use the trees when frightened.  Male and female rough-necks look alike and sexing is very difficult.  Captive breeding has been sporadic and females lay 1-3 clutches year with 6-14 eggs in each clutch.  The eggs will hatch within 185 days when incubated at 84-86 degrees.  With proper care rough-neck monitors can live 10-15 years in captivity.  Like most monitors, rough-necks are nervous captives and may take some time to tame down.  Ideally, the cage should include multiple hiding spots to provide a sense of security.

Temperature and UV Lighting

     Rough-neck 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.


     Baby rough-neck monitors can be kept in a 29 gallon cage but they grow quickly and will soon need larger housing.  Adult rough-neck monitors should be kept in a cage that is at least 6’ x 2’ x 4’. 


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


     Rough-neck 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.


     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.