taming tips on water monitors

Discussion in 'Monitors & Tegus' started by jhudson, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. jhudson

    jhudson Embryo

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    HI im Jon. I have been dealing with monitors for 2 years and I have just add a water monitor to my collection. I would like to recive tips on handling and taming. Its a big step up but im ready for the responsibility.

    I know that there are different methods for each monitor. so let me know your opinion thank you.
     
  2. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  3. Bigtasty25

    Bigtasty25 Embryo

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    piece of advice..dont listen to crocdoc, he'll say something like "well it sounds like to me, frankly stated, that you my friend are nieve to get a water monitor without the proper informed material pertaining to the reptile you just bought. If you would have known this, you wouldnt need to ask us questions about your lizard here. Now to answer your question, in reference to caring for your precious water monitor and making you look like an idiot since i am in love with my water monitors and even whacked off to one once when it bobbed its head in reference to me bobbing my "head"... even though you made a gut buy on this animal without thinking, my suggestion is to research the acquired animal, & as well... stop asking such generalized questions that shouldnt need answering if you did the research...maybe you're better off with a chameleon."

    (that is his answer, not mine-so dont take offense- so he can skip this thread, but id pay closer attention to my answer below as it'll actually help)

    MY answer is...I think water monitors are awsome lizards...they can be tamed and have amazing personalities and make for great interaction potential (in some of them), if you put the time in ---according to numerous care sheets and tons of sites ive research extensively on the animals". The fact that you bought a lizard with such great potential tells us that you must be willing to put alot of effort into maintaining them, and you must be one dedicated individual who loves reptiles, i dont know any "casual" lizard enthusiast that has a water monitor..you gotta be really into em! They get HUGE! Im talking 7-9 feet my friend. As for handling, plain and simple my friend, just give it some space and dont handle it for a few weeks..or at least until it looks like its used to you, otherwise this will stress them out and frustrate the heck outta em, and basically just slow down the acclimation process (so just leave the curious baby fella alone..lol). Once he gets bigger he'll be more confident around ya and should be slower, more docile, and more tame, as long as u give him regular interaction, pet the side of his head, maybe occasionally hold him (when he's that used to you, etc). As for the setup, dont use a big setup unless the water monitor is large to begin with. If it's a baby...my suggestion would be a 30 gal enclosure. Easiest in my opinion is a tank...and id get a humidifier specifically made for reptiles at your local petstore, a humidity gauge (should be round 70%), and a digital temp gun u can buy online (for cheaper), to clock the temp at the basking spot (should be 120-130), and the ambient cage temp (should be 85-95 for a healthy growing monitor, IMO). Substrate should be a good topsoil, since it retains humidity well and is a good burrow for monitors. I've had an iguana for 10 years, since he was a baby, and i keep things like this basically, he's 6 feet long and healthy and tame as a horse in these conditions. G'luck!
     
  4. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  5. crocdoc

    crocdoc Embryo

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    Bigtasty, I think it's time you grew up. If you want me to stop responding to your posts, I'm afraid you're going to have to stop mentioning me in them. Jon is not going to get the same response as you because he's shown no evidence of idiotically killing two monitors in two weeks, as you have. By the way, I find it funny that the thought of whacking off in front of monitors has even entered your head. You're a strange kid.

    Jon, as you read Bigtasty's post you should keep in mind that he's speaking from extremely limited experience. He's had his current water monitor for two or three days. His previous one he had for less than five before it died. He had a baby savannah monitor the week before that (notice that he joined this forum May 26), but he lost it because he let it loose while he was having a shower and failed to plug the gaps below his door. Now he's giving advice to others on how to keep and handle monitors, even suggesting an aquarium after me telling him several times why a home-built enclosure is better. This is the wonder of the internet: newbies are instant experts. If you doubt me, have a read of his posts over the past couple of weeks:

    May 26: Monitor #1 refuses to eat (kept on aspen shavings)
    http://www.reptilerooms.com/forumtopic-34420.html
    May 30 (four days later) Bigtasty loses monitor #1
    http://www.reptilerooms.com/forumtopic-34577.html
    June 03 (four days later) buys monitor #2
    http://www.reptilerooms.com/forumtopic-34737.html
    June 09 (six days later) monitor #2 dies, buys monitor #3
    http://www.reptilerooms.com/forumtopic-34980.html

    It's all there, you don't really need me to say anything.


    Anyway, enough about Bigtasty and onto monitors.

    Jon, in my experience, the best way to get monitors to react calmly around people is to develop a level of trust with them. As juveniles, monitors are terrified of anything larger than they are because in the wild they'd be eaten by a wide array of animals. If they didn't have the instinct to fear everything, they would have gone extinct ages ago. The best way to overcome that fear is NOT to pull them out of their hide spots and handle them, for all that does is let them know their hide spots are not safe - that just makes them more insecure and stressed. Most monitors get bolder as they get larger. If you just carry on looking after it, spot cleaning the enclosure, changing its water etc but without hassling it, it will come to realise that you aren't a threat. Slow, steady movements are a must in its presence. Eventually, it will stay out in the open rather than bolting for its hide when it sees you. If you start feeding it from tongs, it will also come to realise that you are the source of food. Once it starts staying out in the open, you can try very slowly moving your hand towards it (back of the hand on the substrate, palm up) and try to stroke it lightly under the chin, but then leave it alone. After a while, it will stop seeing being touched as threatening, too. Then you can try lifting it a bit and so on. Or even leave your arm in there for a few minutes to see if it will climb up on its own. They're very intelligent, curious animals and will often come to check you out once they stop fearing you. It takes a long while and a lot of patience, but it will eventually see you as being non-threatening and you'll develop a level of trust that will lead to a calm monitor you can handle. This method has worked for me for quite a number of monitors over the past six years.

    One way to look at it is to imagine you're in a park feeding a squirrel and want to get it tame enough to hold. If you grabbed it on day one and force handled it, you'd probably never see it again. If you made slow, gradual steps over several months, you'd achieve your goal.
     
  6. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  7. jhudson

    jhudson Embryo

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    thank you both for your insight and I see what you mean. he is a step up for me and i have had him for a month. he's a good monitor i have two others that are tamed 1 savanna and 1 dumeril. The dumeril took one month and she was a year and a half when i got her never been handled. I want to start breeding somethime in the future not to rush into any thing. i have a passion for this animals and it takes a lot of responsability and money. i dont have any wife or kids so i can put forth the time to do the research. so thank you all again
     
  8. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  9. mrcota

    mrcota Embryo

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    Hello Jon,

    Crocdoc is right on about building a relationship of trust between you and the monitor. This is the only truly effective method and in the end you will never have a 100% tame monitor lizard. They are wild animals. Some will never approach a level that you may consider as 'tame'. Each monitor displays different behaviours and some of the same species will become more docile than others. NO ONE and I really mean NO ONE has ever been successful keeping monitors alive by force taming them into submission.

    I live where Varanus salvator (Water Monitors) live, in quite possibly one of the largest concentrations of them in the world, the Chao Phraya River Basin/Central Floodplains. Over the past two years alone I have raised 6, having released 3 back into the wild. I have kept them back when I lived in the US and have been conducting field studies on them for the past two years, so I have a little bit of experience with this species.

    As for 'Bigtasty25' saying don't listen to crocdoc? :shock: I would suggest basing any opinion on what crocdoc has posted not only on this forum, but other fora and maybe actually looking into who he really is. I would strongly suggest that 'Bigtasty 25' do this himself and maybe think about the advice that has been given to him instead of killing off poor captive monitor lizards. In the two decades + off and on that I have been keeping monitor lizards, you have done in a matter of weeks (killing that number of monitor lizards) that I have not been able to do in over 20 years :shock: Not an accomplishment to be very proud of!
    [​IMG]
    You are aware that your Varanus salvator could get as large as this 220+cm one in the picture, right? :wink: You can not imagine how much food they can go through at that size (or the mess when it passes through).

    Cheers Jon,
    Michael
     
  10. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  11. jhudson

    jhudson Embryo

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    RE: Re: taming tips on water monitors

    thanks michael. I had ask a buddy of mine who is a herp so he did confirm what crocdoc said. yes I am aware that the get 7'to8' feet
    I dont like to get into any thing that im unsure of. im puting to gether a wooden cage with a glass front and vents at mid to low levels
    of the cage its dimentions are 4'w 4'L 4'H if you can give me a disign for the inside i would like that thank you
     
  12. Feircedsm

    Feircedsm Embryo

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    RE: Re: taming tips on water monitors

    4x4x4 is not big enough. For now since its small i think its ok but i think your better off starting with a large cage because it would cost you to much work. a cage around 16feet is good. The rule of thumb is though is around twice the size of your full grown monitor. Maybe 12 feet would do it but a 4x4x4 is the size for a medium sized dragon.
     
  13. crocdoc

    crocdoc Embryo

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    RE: Re: taming tips on water monitors

    You don't want to start with a large enclosure as it becomes more difficult keeping the temperature and humidity in the right range for a juvenile.
     
  14. mrcota

    mrcota Embryo

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    All of my starter enclosures are 4' X 2' X 2'. Your enclosure is big enough to start it off, just keep in mind that it will have to be in a bigger enclosure within a year. The sub-adult enclosure outside is 1.3m X 2.6m X 2.3m high. Once they are well over a metre, I release them, because I can observe them in the field; they have outgrown most predators plus hatchlings and juveniles live very secretive lives in my area. Keeping them in captivity allows me to observe their behaviours when they are young. If I were to keep adults, I would keep them in a 5m X 2.5m X 2.5m enclosure (minimum).

    Cheers,
    Michael
     
  15. jhudson

    jhudson Embryo

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    alright thanks guys. if you all dont mind what is it that you all do just out of curiosity.
     
  16. crocdoc

    crocdoc Embryo

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    making a crust

    I'm a zoologist. I am responsible for the interpretive graphics (and a number of other things) at a large aquarium and wildlife facility.
     
  17. Bigtasty25

    Bigtasty25 Embryo

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    RE: making a crust

    Im a nurse anesthesiologist here in south fla...in a nutshell, im responsible for administering anesthesia to patients that are going under, during surgery, post op, etc..

    "As for 'Bigtasty25' saying don't listen to crocdoc? I would suggest basing any opinion on what crocdoc has posted not only on this forum, but other fora and maybe actually looking into who he really is. I would strongly suggest that 'Bigtasty 25' do this himself and maybe think about the advice that has been given to him instead of killing off poor captive monitor lizards. In the two decades + off and on that I have been keeping monitor lizards, you have done in a matter of weeks (killing that number of monitor lizards) that I have not been able to do in over 20 years Not an accomplishment to be very proud of! "

    It's cool buddy, im not trying to start a war here...i saw some of his threads on raising hatchlings and some of the advice he's given to others...definately well written.
    I realize the baby water i got died due to already being excessively skinny/dehydrated when i got him as well as the added stress of moving, and i did try to pick him up a few times..which i guess was a few times too much, since it led to his downfall...at that level, they are very delicate creatures and go down pretty hard with just a couple wrong steps...im more aware of that now...so, mistake on my part...on alot more familiar with treating humans, alot harder to do since so much more is involved, but, that's my speciality. I've done alot of research lately on the varanus and it's 50some subspecies, the care involved...and im alot more aware now of what's involved...
    as for the savannah? I found him yesterday by my chair...he was slightly skinnier than when i lost him (over 2 weeks ago), but shockingly, he looked quite alright, and still had that lil sausage belly he had before...he's doing fine in his cage setup now.

    My current water monitor is doing great...he is in a setup i have for him in my backyard...humidity/temps are on par and he's eating everything in sight these days. As for crocdoc, im sorry that we had to argue over some of that stuff, some of that advice i should have taken from the getgo, but remember, there's a constructive way for giving advice without having to downgrade others in the process, or put them on a guilt trip for not knowing what you do. saving that other water monitor was on par with being able to have one of my 90 some yr old heart surgery patients with prior multiple illnesses make it through surgery without complications, it's kinda hit or miss, nobody's perfect. A single degree internal temp drop can kill some. I watch some of those nurses like hawks to make sure theyre not ******* around when they should be doing their job. I have a heart. That's why we're all here I rememember, at least i am, to collaborate with others on my current reptiles, get information for what I have not been able to find in my research or caresheets or online, share what I know, etc etc..
     
  18. crocdoc

    crocdoc Embryo

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    No problems. My responses often come across as cranky because I have been reading monitor forums for six years and I see the same issues coming up again and again. Quite often I can see where something is heading and get frustrated when the right measures aren't being taken. I used to be more patient, honestly!

    Part of the problem is that most people getting their first monitor have kept other reptiles, so feel everything will be alright if they follow the same measures. No, the blame for what happened to your water monitor isn't entirely with you. A healthy monitor would be unlikely to die in a week under the wrong conditions, but the blame isn't entirely on the online pet store, either, as a thin, dehydrated monitor can spring back to life in that same amount of time under the right conditions. I got annoyed because I could see where that animal was heading and knew it would be fine if only the conditions were changed. Then I felt you were shifting the blame entirely onto the pet store.

    Because your monitor was alert when it first arrived, a 90 year old heart patient is not an apt comparison, because they aren't quite that sensitive. More like treating kids with chicken pox, measles or the mumps. These days these aren't seen as serious illnesses. A few centuries ago they were, because people weren't as clear on treatment and living conditions weren't what they are today. Sometimes subtle differences in treatment make a huge difference to the final outcome.

    I have a raising enclosure that I use for my hatchling lace monitors. I've had this enclosure for a few years now and built it myself (first monitor enclosure I've made) after experimenting with glass tanks and commercially available wooden enclosures. I figured out what worked best with small monitors and tried to include as many of those features as I could (deep litter dam, sealed top with internal lights, minimal ventilation). It holds humidity like a humidicrib, which is why I start young monitors in there. It isn't a shock for them after coming out of the incubator. Not only have I never encountered a problem with any hatchling that's gone in there, but on several occasions I have put other scrawny, dehydrated monitors in there and had them feeding and putting on weight in no time.

    However, that enclosure was the result of some experimentation and experience on my part, and that's not to say you should have instinctively known the right things to do with your first water monitor.

    Congratulations on finding your savannah monitor. Two weeks without food is nothing to a healthy monitor (I dont bother feeding mine whenever I go for a two week holiday).

    I know how exciting it is to find a lost monitor, though. I had this hatchling Varanus brevicauda disappear in my place for three months and found it a few weeks ago. This will give you an idea of how small it is:

    Shortly after hatching, a couple of weeks before it escaped:

    [​IMG]

    A few days after I found it, after it had eaten its fill of crickets (still skinny)

    [​IMG]

    Two weeks later
    [​IMG]
     
  19. Razaiel

    Razaiel Embryo

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    Almost a year down the line I have altered my habits due to reading all crocdocs (and mrcota's) advice. I also started out handling "baby" every day for just so long (I was assured that was the way to get them used to it). Not now, though, at almost a year I am not touching him much, I clean him out, scoop his poop and talk to him. I touch him sometimes when I do this, like stroke the side of his head (which he doesn't seem to mind), but don't get him out - sometimes I do if he's at the front of his viv and not hiding - I just hold him for a bit until he wants to go then I let him. Is this OK? Feel free to yell at me if not :D

    One thing I was worried about with non-handling of him, is if he ever had to make a vet trip, he would be completely unused to human interaction and stress more.
     
  20. mr~python

    mr~python Embryo

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    wow crocdoc, i didnt know anyone kept brevicauda. do you know of anyone in the states that keeps or breeds them?
     
  21. crocdoc

    crocdoc Embryo

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    Razaiel, eventually the monitor will probably get used to being handled, making vet trips easier.

    mr~python, I know of a few people that keep and breed them, but none in the US
     
  22. jhudson

    jhudson Embryo

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    well crocdoc i am impressed i take it your not in the usa. i do thank you for your opinion you have given me good insight. and also thank you every one else for your tips and opinions. if you have any more info
    i would greatly appreicate it thank you again

    Jonathan.
     
  23. Bigtasty25

    Bigtasty25 Embryo

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    hey crocdoc..pretty V. brevicauda you got there...how big is he now?

    the water is doing good...about 20" and eating regularly...i have him mostly on mealworms, crickets, and fuzzies at the moment. I was gunna try waxworms and or roaches for a lil more variety..but he seems to be doing fine on the above. Ive started working on the enclosure...im actually making it 16 feet by 8...this is a ton of work! LOL.
     
  24. Bigtasty25

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    is 16 by 8 feet big enough? my garage is 20 by 18 feet...im using half of it for the cage, half for my car... Id like to maximize its growth if possible..thats why im making it nice n comfy in size...
     
  25. zackex

    zackex Embryo

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    i dont reallyknow anything about monitors. but i would really like a water moniter when i get older. so i was talking to a breeder at the expo he said if you get them young there usally ok tame wise.
     

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