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How to Care for Your Nile Monitor

How to Care for Your Nile Monitor


Nile Monitors (Varanus niloticus) are huge (3.5 feet and up to 9 feet), diurnal, semi-aquatic, arboreal reptiles native to the Eastern and Northern Africa. They usually live near water, specifically the Nile River, from which they get their common name. Nile Monitors are primarily black or gray with yellow or white spots. Nile Monitors are among the more intelligent reptiles, and require appropriate stimulation in their environment to ensure interest and engagement. Due to their size and wide range of habitat needs they should be considered to be advanced level pets.


Adult Nile Monitors require large enclosures. The enclosure should be minimally twice as long as the monitor and as wide and tall as the monitor’s length. The enclosure should include 24” of dirt substrate to allow the Nile Monitor to construct underground burrows. Additional cage items include a large, stable water bowl, large enough for the monitor to soak or swim in, stable hiding spots, and some pieces of wood or branches that can hold a monitor’s weight below the basking area. The enclosure needs to have a range of humidity: humidity will be low under the basking lights, near 100% underground in the burrows, and 60% throughout the remainder of the enclosure.

Heating and Lighting

Nile Monitors require a basking area whose temperatures can reach at least 120 degrees F or higher on the floor. Since the Nile Monitor is a large reptile, a single light is often not enough to heat its whole body. Frequently a cluster of 3 floodlights will be used, one of which can be a full spectrum light to provide the Monitor with UV. Alternatively, the UVB light can be a full spectrum 10.0 florescent bulb that runs most of the length of the enclosure. The fixture can be placed inside the cage underneath the cover or on top of a mesh cover. If the fixture is placed on top of the cage, a glass cage cover should not be used, since the UVB will not penetrate through the glass. Florescent bulbs decrease in the amount of UVB emitted with time. It’s safest to replace the bulb every 6 months, though a more accurate schedule can be determined if a UV meter is purchased and used to check UV levels. The air temperature in the remainder of the enclosure should be 80-90F during the day, and in the high 70’s at night.


Food and Supplementation

Nile Monitors are carnivorous, opportunistic feeders. When they are young they should be fed daily on crickets, Dubia, and other roaches. Insects should be dusted with calcium and vitamin D3. Adult Nile Monitors require larger prey items and are primarily fed frozen and thawed mice, rats, and other mid-sized mammals or birds. Adult Nile monitors may enjoy the largest Dubia Roaches in addition to the bigger prey items.

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Nile Monitors, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.



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