Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) Care Sheet

Water Monitors are the second largest lizard by weight in the world.  Adult males can reach nine feet and weigh 150 pounds.  While females Water Monitors are much smaller reaching 4-5 feet as adults.  Water monitors are widespread and are located throughout South East Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  These lizards are excellent swimmers and a large water bowl so they can completely submerge themselves is highly recommended.  Water Monitors can be fed crickets, mealworms, night crawlers, rodents, fish, and crawdads.  A mixed diet of these food items four to five times per week is ideal and will ensure proper growth and health.  Humidity is very important because these lizards come from a very wet environment.  We recommend that you mist the cage daily to maintain humidity.  Water Monitors should be kept alone unless you are attempting to breed them. 

Temperature and UV Lighting

     Water 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%-100%.  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 Water monitors can be kept in a 29 gallon cage but they grow quickly and will soon need larger housing.  Adult Water monitors should be kept in a cage that is at least 8’ long by 4’ deep.  Females can be kept in smaller enclosures.  Extremely large specimens may require room sized enclosures.


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

     Water monitors are opportunistic hunters and are known to eat almost anything.  Ideal foods are; mice, rats, fish, crawdads, crickets, superworms, beef heart, and hard boiled eggs.  A mixed diet of these food items, four to five times per week, is ideal and 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.