Savannah Monitor

A Large Land Insectivore

As one of the most popular pet lizard species available, the Savannah monitor is a large stocky lizard that will mature to be 3 ½ to 4 feet long. If provided with the proper care and husbandry, these lizards can live 15 to 25 years. They’re a highly intelligent lizard that uses their claws, limbs, and tails, for climbing, digging burrows and swimming. A Savannah monitor’s base color can range from brown to tan or even gray. They also have white spots and ocelli along their back and tail.


Savannah monitors are a terrestrial species found in the grasslands, savannahs, and rocky areas of sub Saharan Africa. They are most active during the cooler daylight hours when they are searching for food. To regulate their temperature, Savannahs often dig underground burrows to stay cool and lay on large rocks for basking


Savannah monitors require sealed and escape proof housing. As hatchlings, they can start out in a Zilla 20L Critter Cage. It’s important to remember that as they grow and develop, they will require larger accommodations. Adult Savannahs will require at least a six foot by three foot enclosure. Custom designed pens can be the most suitable housing for adult monitors. These lizards are powerful diggers and adults should be provided with 18 to 24 inches of substrates, while 3 inches of substrates would be adequate for a juvenile monitor. Appropriate substrates include Zilla Jungle Mix, Zilla Bark Blend, and Zilla Coconut Husk Brick. To help your monitor feel secure, a hide such as the Zilla Rock Dens or Zilla Rock Lair can be added. Driftwood, logs, artificial plants, and other items can provide basking spots, enrichment, and places to hide.  Remember to change their water supply at least every other day to maintain sanitary conditions.

Temperature and Lighting

It’s important to create a thermal gradient in the enclosure.  A properly sized Zilla Heat Mat with proper lighting can accomplish this.  The ambient temperature should be between 80-85°F.  Basking temperatures on one side of the enclosure can reach 125 to 130°F. Savannah monitors also require overhead UVA/UVB fluorescent lighting. The Zilla Mini Dome with a 50W Day White Mini Halogen Bulb and a Silver Reflector Dome with a Pro Series Desert Fluorescent Coil Bulb will provide the monitor with enough heat and UVB lighting.

Feeding / Diet

While most people think monitors are carnivorous, and many are, Savannah Monitors are primarily insectivorous even as adults.  In captivity crickets, mealworms, superworms, roaches and waxworms make great food options. Feeder insects should be given Zilla Gut Load Cricket Drink 48 hours before feeding and sprayed with Zilla Calcium Supplement and Zilla Vitamin Supplement Spray 1-2 times weekly. Supplementing calcium is necessary in order to prevent metabolic bone disease.


Monitors require a considerable amount of time and patience in order for them to become docile as adults. Hatchling monitors should be carefully handled with both hands. Adult monitors should be handled from underneath using your hand and arm for support.

Also be sure to wash your hands after handling any animals.

Created in cooperation with the

Madison Area Herpetological Society, Inc.