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What Can My Savannah Monitor Eat?

What Can My Savannah Monitor Eat?

Savannah Monitors are a large reptile native to the Central African savannah. Due to their size and because their habitat must be sizable they are not one of the more common reptiles to be found as pets. They're friendly and tame when domesticated but they are considered to be an advanced level pet. Primarily carnivores, their main source of prey in the wild is small mammals, including rodents, birds, eggs, crustaceans, and fish. Younger monitors tend to be more insectivorous due to their size, in captivity insects can make up a larger part of the general diet for Savannah monitors as they are opportunistic hunters so will pretty much eat whatever is put in front of them, that being said they still cannot live on just insects and will need to eat small prey animals.

 

Can My Savannah Monitor Eat Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are not strictly a required part of the Savannah Monitor's diet, however, it has been shown that there are certain vegetables, and even fruits that can be beneficial to all reptiles, including our more carnivorous friends. So in captivity offering them a small amount of these as part of their regular diet can help your monitor to get some extra vitamins and minerals that will enable them to be more healthy. 

 

Savannah Monitors & Small Prey Animals

Variety is key for any animal when it comes to diet and the same can be said for the Savannah monitor. There is some controversy when it comes to feeding whole prey items at all when Savannah Monitors are in captivity and should exist wholly on insects, this is due to the health problems that can stem from ingesting food such as mice and not having the correct husbandry, (see What Is Husbandry?) as incorrect temperatures and housing can lead to digestion issues like impaction, and these are blamed on the prey items being consumed rather than the husbandry issues.

It is surmised that some keepers do not have the correct husbandry, and that is why these issues are so common, to reduce the chances of something bad happening ensure that you enact the proper husbandry and care for your Savannah Monitor (see our Savannah Monitor Care Sheet) before you decide to bring one home. If you are unsure of your husbandry being optimal, it may be safer for your to stick to insects until you get any issues that you may have fixed and are more certain that your Savannah Monitor will be able to devour whole prey safely.

In this article we will explore all the recommended food groups as well as how much of each you should feed your Savannah Monitor, please ensure that you are familiar with the care you will need to provide for your reptile before you bring them home, particularly with a lizard this big you do not want to find yourself biting off more than you can chew!

 

How Often Should I Feed My Savannah Monitor?

Baby (0-9 months) savannah monitors need to be fed 2 - 3 times per day with small-sized insects, and relatively sized anything else. Juvenile (9-24 months) monitors should be fed daily with medium to large-sized insects and larger portions of whatever else you choose to feed. Adult (24+ months) savannah monitors can be fed large size insects and also small prey items in their diet as they are now big enough to do so.

 

The Best Insects For Your Savannah Monitor

Whether you choose to feed small prey animals, fruits and vegetables or not, you will always need to feed your Savannah Monitor live feeder insects as a large part of their diet. Particularly when they are at the baby and juvenile stage and cannot yet eat larger prey items this is an essential part of their diet. As will any insects-eating reptile there are certain insects that are better for your monitor than others. Here is a list of which ones would be staples and which ones are better as treats.

Staple live feeder insects:

 

Occasional treats:

IMPORTANT - You should never feed your Savannah Monitor wild-caught bugs that you have found outside, these can be contaminated with pesticides and also contain diseases that will seriously harm your reptile. They can also carry parasites that can infect your pet, so do not feed them any bugs found outside or from around your house.

TOXIC BUGS

On the subjects of bugs that shouldn.t be fed to your Savannah Monitor there are certain bugs that you should avoid feeding to your reptile completely for various reasons. If you're monitor does end up ingesting these then you should seek veterinary attention as soon as you can inform them as to what you think your monitor has ingested. Certain toxic bugs are worse than others, fireflies have been known to cause death within an hour of being ingested, while some other bugs like ants and spiders can be ingested, and there isn't necessarily a problem. Activated Charcoal can be given to your Savannah Monitor should they end up swallowing something they shouldn't have, though you should still seek a vet while you doing this.

  • Fireflies (lightning bugs)
  • Ladybugs
  • Centipede 
  • Spiders 
  • Monarch butterflies and caterpillars
  • Ants (not all but the bites of some can cause severe allergic reactions)

 

Supplementation

For any reptile that consumes live insects supplements are a vital part of their diet. For the Savannah monitor there are two main supplements that you need to use for their diet. You will nee calcium powder and a multivitamin powder. Some reptiles require a supplement with vitamin D but the Savannah Monitor does not need to have this due to having different UVB needs.

Offering them supplements is pretty simple, all you need to do is lightly dust one of their meals per week with the multivitamin supplement and two - three meals per week with the calcium supplement. As they get older you can reduce the calcium supplement somewhat, particularly if their stools show any sign of over-supplementation with the calcium powder such as the rates being hard and chalky. See below for suggested products to supplement your feeders.

Gut-Loading Your Feeder Insects

Gut-loading is another essential part of any live insect eating reptile's diet. Separate to supplementation it is the process of passing important nutrients on to your reptile through feeding your live insects with food that is beneficial for your pet. You can do this by feeding them salad items that are safe for your reptile to eat for a few days before you feed them off to your reptile. You can also use certain commercial products that have been formulated for gut-loading your feeders with everything that your reptile needs. See below for some high-quality suggested products for gut-loading your feeders prior to feeding them to your Savannah Monitor.

 

Safe Fruits & Vegetables

Vegetables:

  • Alfalfa (Fresh)
  • Arugula
  • Butternut Squash
  • Chicory
  • Collard Greens
  • Dandelion Greens/Flowers
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Hibiscus flowers and leaves
  • Mustard Greens
  • Nasturtiums
  • Prickly Pear Cactus Pads and Fruits
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Thyme
  • Turnip Greens

Occasional

  • Acorn Squash
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Peppermint
  • Scallop Squash
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Summer Squash
  • Watercress

Rare

  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Bell Peppers
  • Chayote
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Red Cabbage
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Pumnpkin

Very Rare/Never

  • Beetroot - (Goitrogenic)
  • Bok Choy - (Goitrogenic)
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower - (Goitrogenic)
  • Carrots
  • Courgettes
  • Cucumber
  • Green Cabbage - (Goitrogenic)
  • Kidney Beans
  • Kohlrabi - (Goitrogenic)
  • Lima Beans
  • Okra - (High oxalates)
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes - (Goitrogenic)
  • Turnips - (Goitrogenic)
  • Wheatgrass
  • Yam

 

Staple Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mango
  • Papaya

Occasional Fruits:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Guava
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Staple Flowers:

  • Chamomile
  • Chrysanthemum Petals
  • Dandelions
  • Hibiscus
  • Hollyhock
  • Lavender
  • Marigold
  • Nasturtium
  • Rose Petals

 

As previously mentioned they do not need to have plants as a main part of their diet, these should only be offered a couple of times per week at most. Some Savannah Monitors may have problems recognizing fruits and veggies as food, so if you want to feed them and you have your Monitor from a young enough age, then it is a good idea to start them from a young age. 

 

Water

Savannah Monitors need a large pool or tub type container that they are able to soak their entire body in. Ensure that the bowl is big and heavy enough so that it will not tip over when they lay in it and that you clean out the water daily, or whenever they have soiled the water. Tap water is usually okay but to be safest you want to treat the water. See below for our recommendation for doing this.

 

 

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