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Nile Monitor Care

(Varanus niloticus)

Size: Nile Monitors hatch out of the egg at about 8" long, but will grow very fast. In just one year they can grow from 8" to 36". Adults can grow as big as 7' but 5-6' is the average. Babies to 4' juveniles can be held but once they become adults they are more like a dog. It can be uncomfortable to you and the lizard to pick them up, but that doesn't mean you can't interact with them. You can still sit with them and even take them outside to play. (Please note that most Niles will not tame down completely.) 
Food: Nile Monitors love to eat. In fact, eating is their favorite passtime (aside from tail-whipping their owner). Baby Niles should be fed as many crickets as they will eat daily. Along with that, once a week they should be given about an ounce of raw ground turkey and 1 or 2 pinky mice per week. Alternate the days they will receive these food items to offer variety. Continue on this regimen until they are around 6 months of age. At this point you will alter their diet. Crickets are no longer desirable to the Monitor at this stage of growth. They will now require a steady diet of rats and raw ground turkey to be given every other day. The older they get, the more they consume. In fact, they can consume up to $100 in food as adults every month.
Caging: Considering the growth rate of a Nile Monitor, you may want to build an adult sized cage which should measure at least 12' in length, 5' in depth and 4' in height, to start with. That way, you won't have to keep buying new cages every couple of months. Keep in mind, you will need to provide a proper hiding place, a source of clean, fresh water, and a sufficiently warm area to bask.
Substrate: Niles, like all other monitors, like to dig. The preferred substrate for Niles is Cypress Mulch. If you cannot find Cypress Mulch, Orchid Bark is a great substitute. You must provide a depth that will allow the monitor to burrow comfortably. I would suggest a depth of 4-6" for babies, 8-12" for juveniles, and at least 24" for adults.
Heating & Lighting: Nile Monitors, like all herptiles, are ectothermic, meaning they rely on outside sources of heat to warm their blood. I would recommend using a heat light to provide a basking spot. The basking spot should reach around 120 degrees for babies and up to 150 degrees for adults. As far as lighting, there is no scientific proof that monitors need UV lighting. But if you wish to provide them with UV anyway, make sure it is only on during the day, for up to 12 hours.

2004 Herptilian