Cage & Habitat

Monitors are fun and exciting pets, but they can grow quite large. In order to keep your pet happy and healthy he will need a home that is big enough for him to eat, sleep, bask, and explore. Although it may take some work and a bit of money, creating an ideal home and habitat is necessary for his well being.

Cage
Depending on the type of monitor you have, you may need a very large cage. The size of the cage required varies based upon the size of the animal, but always go with the largest size possible.

A large monitor can be up to six feet long and most commercial terrariums will not be big enough to make a suitable home. A habitat can be built using 2 x 4s, wire mesh, and plywood.

For a large monitor, the cage should be at least 8 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 6 feet high. The sides of the cage can be wire, or you can have 3 sides made from plywood and the front a wire mesh door. A cage with solid walls on 3 sides maintains the habitat’s temperature better and may be preferred by those living in colder climates.

A small room or a large walk-in closet can make a nice home for a monitor. The door to the closet or room would need to be replaced with a screened door and you would need to ensure there is enough ventilation.

Your companion’s home should be located where a consistent temperature can be maintained. You want to avoid extreme heat or cold. The cage should not be near heaters, air conditioners, windows, or drafty areas.

Decor
You want to provide your reptile with a variety of places to climb, rest, and bask. Shelves or ledges at various heights and sturdy branches for climbing provide your pet with areas to explore and places to bask. Ramps and other ways to climb can also be added.

He will also need a place where he can feel safe and secure so a hide area should be provided. A wooded box, easily crafted from plywood, makes a suitable hide area.

If your pet is a monitor that likes to spend time in water, a large wading area will be needed. A hard plastic kiddie pool or utility tub with ramps added for easy access and exit will work.

If possible, you want to get a pool or tub with a drain for easy cleaning since the water usually needs to be changed daily. You will also need a heater for the water to keep the temperature around 80* F.

Light & Heat
Monitors need a source of UVB lighting for about 12 hours per day to remain healthy. Sunlight is the best source of UVB, but it is not always available to a pet monitor. Sunlight through a window is not a good source of UVB since the glass filters out the UVB.

Long fluorescent reptile bulbs are a good way to supply your pet with the needed UVB lighting. You want the bulbs to extend the length of the cage to make sure he gets optimal exposure. You also want to make sure he can get close enough to the bulbs to receive the full effect but not so close that he can get burned.

A monitor will also need heat to remain healthy. Some heat will come from the UVB lights, but additional heat sources may be necessary. Basking bulbs and heat emitting bulbs can be used for heat. Make sure your pet can’t get too close to a heat source and get burned.

Around 85* F is a good temperature for the habitat with a basking area around 100* F and a cooler side around 75* F to allow your reptile to regulate heat. You will want a thermometer and a way to regulate the temperature of his home to make sure it doesn’t become too hot or cold.

Substrate
The bottom of the cage will need some sort of substrate. Since monitors are diggers you want to have a deep layer of substrate. A mixture of clean dirt & sand is an inexpensive option. Another choice is Eco-earth. It is a natural looking substrate available at pet stores that looks similar to dirt and is easy to clean and scoop out waste. Vinyl or tile flooring can be used under the substrate since it is easily cleaned.

Food & Water Bowls
Your reptile will need food and water bowls. Heavy bowls or bowls that can be attached to the side of the cage are best to prevent spilling. Even if your monitor has a pool for wading a water bowl should still be provided.

Cleaning
Food and water bowls will need to be cleaned daily with warm soapy water. Wading pools may need to be emptied and cleaned daily or every other day depending on if your pet passes waste in the water. Ledges, branches, ramps, and other decor should be cleaned as needed. Any waste and dirty substrate should be removed daily.

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