Animal Care/Nile Monitor
The Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus) is a large member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae). They can grow to about 6 feet in length and have muscular bodies, strong legs and powerful jaws full of sharp teeth. They also possess sharp claws used for climbing, digging, defense, or tearing at their prey. Like all monitors they have a forked tongue, which facilitates their sense of smell.
Nile monitors live in Africa and are found near their namesake, the Nile. Their nostrils are placed high on the snout, indicating that these animals are highly aquatic. They are also excellent climbers and quick runners on land. Nile monitors feed on fish, frogs, eggs, birds, small mammals, insects, moluscs and carrion.
Nile monitors make great pets for the EXPERIENCED OWNER and are not recommended as beginner pets.
Nile monitors will require a very large cage that is twice as long as the lizard. A 6 foot monitor would require a 12x6x6, with three feet of dirt. The same ratios should be used for their entire life. A 3 foot monitor would need a 6x3x3, with 1.5 feet of dirt. Due to their large size, adults will require custom built quarters. Dirt is the best substrate, and the only substrate that should be used. Landscape with rocks, driftwood, or hollow logs. A water dish large enough for the lizard to soak in should be used. Nile monitors have a tendency to defecate in the water dish so clean it whenever soiled or at least daily.
Nile monitors should have a daytime temperature gradient of 80-90° F (27-32° C) and a nighttime temperature of 78-80° F (26-27° C). A basking spot of 140 F SURFACE temp should be provided at least 12 hours a day. A thermometer should be used to verify the temperature. The humidity should be near 60% ideally.
This species is extremely hardy in captivity when properly maintained. Respiratory infections are common, however, in monitors kept too dry. Wild caught animals should be checked for internal parasites. The Nile monitor has a very aggressive temperament with a powerful bite and a lashing tail. With care and especially if raised from a hatchling, Nile monitors can sometimes be successfully tamed. Do not expect overnight results as it can take some time. Remember to cater to your monitor's individual personality when attempting to tame them. A confident-aggressive monitor will do fine with lots of handling while a skittish-aggressive monitor will become more stressed and more unmanageable. I strongly suggest captive bred specimens if you truly desire to tame this magnificent species. There are also many examples of tame Nile monitors available on YouTube that are full of tips and tricks for taming. Remember, there isn't any one method that's best for a species as a whole. There are lots of possible personalities just like with people. They must always be treated as an individual in order to maximize their potential.