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Black-Throat Monitor Lizards
The Black-Throat Monitor Lizard is an extremely large lizard, but it has a mild temperament, especially when kept as a pet. In the wild, these lizards can be a bit aggressive and generally don’t put up with people. However, when they are raised in captivity, they are pretty laidback. You’ll see all sorts of pictures of these lizards happily tagging along with their owners around the house.
These lizards do require particular care and should only be kept by advanced lizard owners. They are not good first-time pets by any means.
Quick Facts About Black-Throat Monitor Lizards
|Species||Black-Throat Monitor Lizard|
|Diet||Whole prey animals|
|Minimum Tank Size||Very large|
|Tank Set-Up||Wading pool, natural substrate, climbing areas, basking lights|
Black-Throat Monitor Lizard Overview
The classification of this lizard is a bit complicated. It is related to both the white-throated monitor and savannah monitor, both of which are fairly similar to this lizard.
Either way, these lizards are available as pets. They aren’t super popular, largely because of their size. You can’t just let this lizard wander around your house. Instead, you’ll need to design an extremely large enclosure to keep it in. Be aware of this before committing to this lizard. Its enclosure requirements only get larger as it gets older.
While these lizards are large, they are also extremely laidback. This makes them suitable pets. They aren’t that aggressive and don’t mind handling as long as they are around people from birth. These lizards are not that docile in the wild, but they do adapt to people well when raised around them.
These lizards can grow to over 60 pounds. Most people don’t realize just how big they get when they first adopt them. This is one reason that they are often abandoned as adults, despite their docile nature. Be sure you can handle a lizard that is the size of a large dog before you adopt one.
How Much Do Black-Throat Monitor Lizards Cost?
Black-Throated Monitor Lizards are generally expensive. This is largely because it takes a great deal of room and work to breed them. Keeping two 60-pound lizards healthy enough for breeding is challenging! It is just as much work as breeding dogs, so you can often expect these lizards to cost just as much as a purebred dog.
Generally, these lizards are about $1,000. You may find one for a few hundred dollars less than that or a few hundred dollars more. The sex doesn’t particularly determine the cost, nor does the size. It mostly depends on the breeder and location. In areas with high demand, these lizards tend to cost a bit more.
Babies are occasionally cheaper. You may be able to purchase baby lizards for only around $500.
You may be able to find a local breeder that can provide you with the lizard of your choice. Other times, you may need to order one and have it shipped to you. It depends on your area and what is available. Be sure you choose an ethical breeder that takes good care of their lizards.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
In the wild, these lizards mostly live in trees. They will walk on the ground, but they spend about half of their life up in the trees. This is especially true when they are smaller, as they are more likely to be attacked by predators at this age. Adults won’t climb as much simply because they are larger and more confident.
However, adults will escape danger through climbing if they feel threatened. They will also spend a decent amount of time hiding under rocks and burrowing. In captivity, this often means that they like to dig. They may cuddle into blankets and similar items.
Unlike many lizards, they are diurnal, which means that they are awake during the day.
These lizards are quite playful and need regular stimulation. This can be achieved through digging and climbing, as well as other fun-for-lizard activities. They do like to be handled by their owners and can build an attachment to them. They are decently intelligent – enough to recognize their owners.
However, they need to be handled by people regularly when in captivity, or they can become aggressive. When they feel threatened, these lizards will attempt to make themselves look larger by puffing up their bodies. They may hiss and have been known to bite. Because they are rather large, their bites can do significant damage. You shouldn’t threaten a lizard that is showing signs of aggression.
These lizards can be walked outside like dogs, though they do walk considerably slower. This is a great way to help them exercise and keeps them entertained. You can use a leash and harness for this purpose. You shouldn’t let them roam free because they are so good at climbing trees. They could go up and not come back down!
Appearance & Varieties
These lizards only come in one variety. They are typically dark greyish-brown with yellow or white markings. The markings and exact colors can differ from lizard to lizard.
As adults, they can reach up to 7 feet and weigh over 60 pounds. Their huge size is one reason that they aren’t as popular as other lizards. It is difficult to house them appropriately.
How to Take Care of Black-Throated Monitor Lizards
These lizards are docile, but they take up a great deal of room. It isn’t that they require so much care, but their habitat needs to be fairly large, which can be expensive. They are typically difficult to own for this reason.
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
The Black-Throated Monitor Lizard needs a sizeable container. They are large and strong. They can easily break through certain tanks, so the material is important. It is best to build a permanent habitat out of wood and plexiglass. This is often strong enough to keep them in and prevent potential escapes.
While their enclosures don’t have to be extremely large, they should be big enough for you to take a few strides and turn all the way around. For a 7-foot lizard, this is decently sized. The lizard should also have a basking spot or two and a few places to climb. Remember, they need to be entertained, and a great way to do this is through climbing.
Shelves are often great options. These are one of the few things that are sturdy enough for these lizards. Strong branches can also be used. Just remember that these lizards are 60 pounds. The branch must be able to hold that much weight. You should plan on a few raised areas so the lizard can bask closer to their lamps. Ramps and other ways to climb up and down are preferable.
These lizards like to have access to water, but they aren’t particularly strong swimmers. The water shouldn’t be deep enough for them to drown or need to swim. Ramps and similar climbing options can provide access to and from the water area. A kiddie pool is often a suitable option, assuming that you have room for one.
The water should be changed daily, so you may want a tub with a drain of some sort. A heater will also be necessary for the pool, as the temperature needs to stay around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
A hiding place should always be provided, even for very large lizards. Often, building one of those yourself out of plywood is the best option. You should bolt all accessories firmly in place, or the lizard will move them around.
Because they like to dig, these lizards need an earthen floor. This layer should be deep enough for these lizards to dig decently sized holes. Soil and sand mix is often a suitable option. You can use tile flooring underneath, which will stay clean even with the dirt on top of it. Remember, your lizard’s claws will come into contact with this material, so it should be quite strong.
These lizards prefer warm temperatures. Their area should not go lower than 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night, and their basking area should be at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit. They will also need access to UVB, which can be accomplished through a simple UVB bulb.
Do Black-Throated Monitor Lizards Get Along With Other Pets?
No, these lizards do not typically get along with other pets. They will either try to eat the other pet if it is smaller than them, or the other pet will likely see them as prey animals. Even with dogs of a similar size, they often don’t get along well.
These lizards should be kept alone.
What to Feed Your Black-Throated Monitor Lizard
These lizards are obligate carnivores. This means that they cannot digest plant matter or absorb all of the nutrients from plants. In the wild, they eat a diet that includes a variety of different animals. For instance, other reptiles, birds, rodents, and even insects are fair game. They are opportunistic, so they basically eat anything that they find.
In captivity, they will often eat many types of prey. Mice, rats, young chickens, and birds are common for pet lizards. You can also feed them fish, eggs, and shellfish. Insects are often included alongside the lizard’s regular diet. These bugs should be dusted with calcium powder, as they are low in this necessary mineral.
Some lizards will only consume live prey, but others will be fine with dead prey. It depends on the lizard. You can often purchase bulk frozen mice online, which provides a steady diet for your pet. In captivity, these lizards do not tend to stalk or hunt animals. Instead, they simply eat whatever they find when they find it.
You should feed your monitor a few times a week. You may have to adjust the amount or the schedule if your lizard becomes overweight or too thin. You should keep a close eye on its weight, as these lizards may not actually look obese.
A freshwater bowl should always be provided, even if you have a swimming pool. This bowl should be firmly attached to the cage to prevent spillage.
Keeping Your Black-Throated Monitor Lizard Healthy
These lizards must be seen by an exotic animal vet who is experienced with UVB lizards. Most vets don’t know much about these pets.
It can be difficult to determine if these lizards are sick. Typically, you may notice if they are lethargic or unwell.
Like all lizards, these can develop a metabolic bone disease if they are not fed properly. This is caused by a calcium-phosphorus disproportion, which leads to weakened bone. This can occur when the lizard is not eating the proper diet. A deficiency in UVB lighting can also cause this disease, as lizards need UVB to make vitamin D, which is necessary for them to utilize calcium.
These lizards can also develop compaction, which occurs when they eat something that they can’t digest. They are rather large, so they will eat all sorts of things. Most commonly, this occurs when they eat sand or substrate from their cage. Rarely, they may eat something larger that isn’t edible.
These lizards are difficult to breed simply because they are so large. Typically, you introduce the male into the female’s habitat. A nest box is required, and the female will lay her eggs into this. Typically, the eggs are incubated and hand-raised so the lizards are accepting of humans.
There is little information about breeding these lizards, and many of the couplings seem to be the result of luck alone.
Are Black-Throated Monitor Lizards Suitable for You?
These lizards require a great deal of space and commitment. Their habitat basically needs to be a whole room. If you have the space to dedicate to them, they do make rather enjoyable pets. Their larger size makes them less fearful of humans and more docile. They typically aren’t scared of being handled, which allows them to enjoy the company of their owners. You can also take them on walks and hang out with them in a way that is difficult to do with smaller lizards.
They do require a bit of a complex diet. They need whole prey items. Mice are the most common options, but they need to eat quite a few mice for this to be successful. Be sure you can handle its dietary needs before adopting one of these lizards.
Featured Image Credit: Mikhail Blajenov, Shutterstock
Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!
- Quick Facts About Black-Throat Monitor Lizards
- Black-Throat Monitor Lizard Overview
- How Much Do Black-Throat Monitor Lizards Cost?
- Typical Behavior & Temperament
- Appearance & Varieties
- How to Take Care of Black-Throated Monitor Lizards
- Do Black-Throated Monitor Lizards Get Along With Other Pets?
- What to Feed Your Black-Throated Monitor Lizard
- Keeping Your Black-Throated Monitor Lizard Healthy
- Are Black-Throated Monitor Lizards Suitable for You?