Cape monitor lizard: maintenance and care at home, photo
In recent years, our compatriots have begun to show increased interest in exotic animals. Instead of the usual dogs and cats, terrariums populated by amphibians and reptiles began to appear in the houses. Cape lizard is especially popular. After reading this article, you will learn about the features of the content of representatives of this species.
Cape monitor lizard - one of the representatives of reptiles, which is great for home maintenance. Unlike other monitor lizards, representatives of this one are more peaceful, easily tame, and also get along well with children. Monitor lizards have seasonal breeding; babies are born in the spring. Therefore, to buy a Cape monitor lizard, the best time will be mid-summer or autumn.
Cape monitor lizards are common in the field from west to east of central Africa, in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ganoi, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo and Uganda.
Life in nature
In nature, Cape monitor lizards live in savannah and semi-desert biotopes, dry forests, rocky savannahs, arid scrubs (shrubbery) and foothills. This lizard leads a terrestrial lifestyle, showing daily activity. As a shelter, reptiles independently dig holes, or using ready-made ones that belonged to rodents. Likewise, lizards settle among piles of stones, crevices and at the roots of trees and bushes.
When an aggressor occurs near him, the Cape monitor lizard turns sideways towards it, swells, bends its tail to the opposite side of the body and brings it to strike. If, when danger arises, the lizard cannot hide anywhere and thereby escape, it is so strongly attached to the stones that it is almost impossible to tear it off.
With the onset of the hot season, animals hide in their shelters and leave from there only with the onset of coolness. Cape lizards can climb trees and shrubs low, where, hiding in the relative ventilation zone, they can lie in wait for their prey.
This species of animals is very territorial and therefore always adheres to the boundaries of its site.
In the wild, the diet of the lizard is represented mainly by carrion. They also hunt, catching small mammals, insects, frogs, crayfish and the like. The lizard eats everything: from the internal organs to the bones. He does not chew food, but bites off large pieces of it and swallows it.
After the animal has eaten, it lies down half asleep to digest what was eaten, at this moment the animal's activity is reduced and it is relaxed. Monitor lizards exhibit any activity only when they are in danger or hungry.
This reptile is often found near rivers and lakes and, therefore, local natives consider them sacred animals and believe that the death of these animals will lead to a decrease in the amount of water.
Appearance and dimensions
In the world of monitor lizards, Cape or, as they are also called, steppe, are medium in size. In most cases, the body length of adults does not exceed 1 m with a weight of 36–40 kg, but sometimes large specimens up to 130 cm are found. We are talking about males, which in terms of size always prevail over females. It is characteristic that in captivity they reach much larger sizes than in the wild. Experts explain this fact by the lack of forced starvation and the balance of the pet's diet.
Some herpetologists on the basis of the natural ranges of the Cape monitor lizards distinguish 5 of their subspecies, which differ in appearance. Most taxonomists recognize this classification as inaccurate, leaning toward the integrity of the species. Researchers argue that for all steppe lizards, the common features are: a wide head; long forked tongue; dense physique; small scaly cover throughout the body; short tail and neck; serrated crest at the end of the tail; short muzzle; resembling narrow slits, obliquely set nostrils located very close to the eyes.
When keeping varanas in captivity, it will not work to breed them - these reptiles simply will not want to breed.
Depending on the variety of the steppe lizard, the number of scales on its belly can vary from 60 to 160 pieces; the color is also different. Most often, individuals are gray-brown in color with yellow round spots arranged in a row on their backs; they are usually edged with dark tones of the main color. And on the tail of the Cape monitor lizard there are yellow-brown rings. From below, his body, like the internal parts of all limbs, is highlighted in light color.
The lizard features are overly long claws on short fingers and powerful jaws; all representatives of this family have very developed jaw muscles. Experts draw the attention of breeders to the fact that in adults, teeth are characterized by extended crowns and bluntness, and in young ones, on the contrary, they are characterized by pointed edges and a conical shape. Because of their beautiful skins, Cape monitor lizards have always been of great interest to people. The peak of trade in these raw materials was recorded in the 70–80 years of the twentieth century. Therefore, in some areas of its range, reptiles are on the list of animals that are threatened with local extinction.
Due to the high level of intelligence, the young lizard quickly adapts to new living conditions. At first, he can show character and demonstrate aggression in the form of racks, hissing and attempts to bite the owner. However, you must confidently dominate, so that the pet understands the hierarchical relationships in the new house. You can teach a lizard to feed by hand, though at first it will not only not eat, but will also go around the hand with food, hissing and trying to bite. After a bite for educational purposes, you can slightly click on his nose.
Training any animal requires great patience and calm perseverance. Very soon, the baby will learn obedience and will cease to be aggressive.
Varanov can and should walk on the street. They benefit from sunbathing and fresh air. Walking time should be gradually increased, accustoming the animal to new sensations. A young monitor lizard can easily escape from its owner, so it is recommended to use a special harness for walking, choosing a model for a kitten or a small dog. On the street you need to carefully monitor the lizard, otherwise, even on a leash, it can climb where it should not.
Sunbathing should be started from five minutes, gradually increasing the time, since a reptile, accustomed to a lamp, can get sunburn.
How to choose a Cape monitor lizard?
For a better and faster adaptation, it is better to acquire a young individual. The best time for such a purchase falls on the end of summer and autumn. When choosing a future pet, you need to pay special attention to the appearance and behavior of the individual you like. The reptile should be active and curious. Once in the native terrarium, the lizard must be interested in the food lying there. In human hands, a healthy lizard will make active attempts to free itself. Before buying, it is advisable to inspect the mouth, nostrils and eyes of the reptile. A well-developed healthy Cape monitor lizard has a clean oral cavity of a light lilac-pink hue. Red or gray color indicates the presence of diseases. It is perfectly normal if the lizard begins to hiss. This is considered a sign of discontent. Among other things, it is recommended to carefully examine the claws and fingers of the reptile. They should not have any visible damage or defect.
Maintenance and care
Those who prefer exotic pets to regular cats and dogs will love the monitor. This is a very peaceful reptile, with a calm and interesting character, quite simple to educate. However, all these qualities will only be manifested in the case of the purchase of a baby born in captivity. Domesticated wild animals can be dangerous and it will be very difficult to tame them.
Capacity for the settlement of a lizard should correspond to its size. It is good if it will be 2 times longer than the body of a reptile.You can do this in two ways:
- Immediately purchase or glue independently a terrarium of 3–3.5 m long for growth.
- Settle a young monitor lizard in a proportionate cell, given its current parameters. In this case, as it grows, you will have to move it to larger terrariums.
In any case, the approximate size of the terrarium, based on a lizard with a length of about 30 cm, should be 60x30x30 cm. You should not do it below, otherwise the monitor lizard will reach the heating devices with its paws and may disrupt them.
As for the soil, it should hold moisture well. There are special mixtures for reptiles, but you can use coconut fibers or sphagnum. Some sources recommend pouring a rather thick layer of soil so that the reptile can dig a hole for itself and live in conditions as close as possible to the natural environment. You can do without this by putting small shelters so that at first the pet feels protected. Later, when he settles in a new place, the "houses" can be removed - they will no longer be necessary.
For convenience and creating an interesting interior in the terrarium, you can place snags and branches. If decorative elements found in a forest or river are used, they must be washed well without using detergents and calcined in the oven. If the soil is mixed with ordinary sand, the latter is also washed several times in running water, then it is heated on a pan or pan and only after cooling is used as intended.
Keeping a Cape monitor lizard will require the purchase of special equipment.The pet will need:
- Ultraviolet and infrared lamps for overhead heating.
- Warm mat or heating cord for lower heating of one half of the terrarium. The container must have zones with different temperature conditions so that the monitor can move as desired from heat to cool.
- A thermometer that attaches to the wall and allows you to control the heating.
- Water tank. Reptiles love to take baths while lying with their whole bodies in water. In addition, their natural reflexes suggest a bowel movement in water, therefore, a container with it will protect the soil from waste products. Thanks to this feature, it’s very easy to teach a lizard to the toilet - he himself will use a tray with water for his needs. If you carry a lizard every morning for 10-15 minutes in a bath with water at room temperature, then you can completely get rid of the need to remove feces from the terrarium tank.
- Stone or wooden house, shelter. You can also cover the floor with an artificial rug that mimics grass.
Humidity should always be maintained at a high level. If the lizard drinks a lot, it means that it does not have enough moisture, so you need to spray the soil more often from the spray gun and reduce the ventilation.
The temperature regime is mandatory - poorly heated air and floor cause digestive problems. Half of the bottom of the terrarium should be warmed up to +40 ° C during the day, while the daily air temperature is at least +28 ° C. At night, the heating can be turned off, but it must be ensured that the temperature mark does not fall below +20 ° C, especially if the apartment is cold. In this case, it is better to leave the night heating. It is safer for the health of the Cape monitor lizard than a lack of heat.
Cape Lizard Feeding
Monitor lizards arepredators by it's nature. And they spend most of their time looking for food. The pet must be active and slender. But laziness and constant access to products leads to rapid obesity. It is worth paying great attention to the diet, since the process of weight gain for these animals is almost irreversible.
Even if you put him on a diet, he will not be able to lose weight as well as mammals.
All internal organs of the animalare covered fat. The heart of the monitor lizards is quite small compared to its entire body. Compounding its movement with weight, there is a big load on the heart of the pet. The circulatory system is not able to withstand such loads, which leads to rupture of blood vessels. Blood forms a rhombus and is able to get anywhere in the body of the animal, including the lungs. The outcome of such an incident is always fatal.
You can not overfeed the Cape monitor lizard, since its colon is very thin. And sometimes in a situation where the pet is obese, everything else gets a large portion of the feed, intestinal rupture can occur.
INdiet The animal must include:
- Complementary vitamins.
The pet's menu may also include mice, rats, shrimp, eggs, and pieces of cooked chicken without fat. They also eat rabbit meat, beef and offal.
Do not give fatty foods such as pork or lard. Also, eggs should not be given often, since for the Cape monitor lizard they have a heavy load on the liver, and the eggs also contain cholesterol.
Cubs up to 3-4 months old can be admitted tofeeding once or twice a day. Light food up to 9-10 months of age is given every other day. You can alternate feeding insects with meat.
Animals older than 1 year are fed 1 time per week.
It is advisable to protect the pet from feeding food caught on the street. Frogs, toads and snails very often have helminths in their intestines, eating such food, the monitor lizard can get serious poisoning, as well as infection with worms.
Do not forget about feeding the beast with vitamins. These reptiles need calcium for good development.
Varan Cape has a fairly high intelligence, so it is very easy and quick to socialize. It will not be difficult for the owner to control the predictable behavior of his pet. It is necessary to philosophically treat aggressive stances and tail strikes, not allowing the reptile to take a dominant position. At first, the baby can hiss bypass your hand with outstretched food. It is very important to show maximum patience and over time he will get used to take food. If he managed to bite you, then you need to not painfully, but noticeably click on his nose. The kid will quickly remember this lesson and next time will carefully think about whether to show aggression.
A few words about walking
Some owners regularly walk their monitor lizards. To do this, you need to purchase a correctly sized harness for kittens. Lizards masterfully know how to back up, so they can not be left on the street unattended. Walking with the reptile is desirable in warm weather. In the summer, sunbaths are shown to the lizard. But to accustom a lizard, accustomed to artificial ultraviolet, to the real sun should be gradually, so as not to cause burns. At first, you can limit yourself to fifteen-minute walks, gradually increasing the time spent in the fresh air.
Did you know? Lizards have been living on Earth for more than one hundred million years. The oldest fossil lizard, named Lizzy, lived about 340 million years ago. It was discovered in Scotland in 1988.
Enemies in the Wild
To survive in the wild, lizards use their sharp claws, strong teeth, powerful tail and extreme briskness. This is only at first glance a large lizard seems awkward - in fact, if necessary, it can quickly run, swim and climb lightning-fast to vertical surfaces. Thanks to such a set of qualities, the predator is few afraid in its range, although it spends most of its life in the hole. These are single animals that are not even friendly with their brothers, because they consider them as competitors in food production. When reptiles meet, a fight will surely occur, accompanied by hissing, whipping of tails and bloating. In this case, the victory will go to the fittest. It is possible that the victim will be immediately eaten. In relation to other representatives of the fauna, these reptiles are most vulnerable to crocodiles, since they hunt their eggs.
Larger birds of prey and snakes can also attack lizards. But they are more interested in young lizards. Forced to fight, Cape monitor lizards beat their tails and bite. Their bite is deadly due to the many bacteria that develop on food debris in the mouth of the host; however, the resulting pathogenic microflora does not threaten his health at all. And for humans and other animals, such a wound can result in blood poisoning and death. It is believed that reptiles later find their prey by smell. Did you know? When meeting with a strong rival who does not retreat with a menacing hiss and tail wave, the Cape monitor lizard may pretend to be dead.
Puberty in steppe lizards occurs closer to three years of age. The mating season begins annually in the rainy season, when vital activity rises. The male in every possible way tries to attract the attention of the female he likes - for this purpose he constantly pursues her, and also bites her tail, scratches her neck and legs. After mating, the female digs a shallow nest and lays from 20 to 60 eggs, up to 10 cm in size. Their incubation lasts for six months, and with the onset of spring, a brood appears in the hole. It is characteristic that newborn lizards are completely independent, as well as intensive growth, which lasts the first 2 months after hatching. Moreover, parents do not care about their offspring at all.