Argus Monitor Care – Complete Beginner Guide For Your New Pet

Argus Monitor Care – Complete Beginner Guide For Your New Pet

This detailed, comprehensive guide on argus monitor care will teach you about their terrarium parameters, health, diet, behavior, and more!

Species Summary

Argus monitors (Panoptes horni) are native to Southern Papua, New Guinea, and are found in grassy savannas. The Argus monitor is a reptile which belongs to the genus Varanus and species Varanus panoptes.

In Australia’s northern areas, the genus may be referred to as the floodplains goanna. They are commonly known as the yellow-spotted monitor. They have an intense character, not shy, and big enough to be considered a giant pet lizard for display.

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Argus Monitor Availability

Argus monitor is available in the U.S. pet trade. The monitor is shipped from Indonesia, but the U.S. pet trade industry usually produces a vast captive-born-and-bred population. They are fairly commonly bred in captivity.


They can live in captivity for 15 to 20 years, but with proper conditions provided similar to the natural environment.

Argus Monitors are among the few known species with parthenogenetic eggs hatching. This is a biological adaptation in which the mother provides the eggs with two sets of chromosomes. This enables them to develop and hatch.

Argus Monitor Appearance

argus monitor appearance


Newborn neonates are usually 10 – 12 inches in length and mature very rapidly. Adults are sexually dimorphic, with males frequently exceeding 4.5 to 5 feet in total length. Females usually have an overall total length of around 3.5. feet.


It is a striking yellow-colored lizard with a very different pattern from the tail.

The Hatchling Argus has brighter colors and patterns than those of adults. With light brown to dark brown and yellow ocelli forming dotted lines, they show a white, yellow background color.

Reddish-brown or gray markings may appear in the background. The tail is usually wrapped in short brown bands that extend to the top of the tail.

Argus Monitor Morphs

Among the Varanus family, the Argus monitor is the largest member. This family has three subspecies found in different regions.

  • Varanus panoptes rubidus is located in Australia’s western areas. This specie is of striking red color.
  • Varanus panoptes panoptes are found in the regions of the Cape York Peninsula and Arnhem Land.
  • Varanus panoptes horni is found in New Guinea. It exhibits variation in colors according to the region it inhabits.

The face of the Argus has some distinctive marks. The head of the Argus Monitor is described as triangular shaped. Their arms tend to be relatively larger than those of other monitor species and are designed with sharp claws. Their tails are very muscular and strong too.

Argus Monitor Terrarium Requirements

argus monitor terrarium


Baby Argus monitors can be housed in a 29-gallon cage, but they grow quickly and soon require a larger housing. Adult Argus monitors should be kept in a cage at least 8 ‘long by 4’ deep.

In smaller enclosures, females may be housed. Mature Argus Monitors require large cages, even room-sized. The enclosure should be at least 5′ tall for adults.


Argus monitors’ temperature should be kept in a range of 85-90 degrees while the basking spot should be 95 degrees.

At night the temperature of 75 degrees is acceptable. As a tropical island species, the Argus monitor is not adequately suited to temperature below 65 degrees.


Lights are set for at least 10 hours a day, allowing Argus to bask under their basking spot. For lighting, UVA and UVB lights are provided in the cage.

UVB lighting is not necessarily required for monitors but is recommended.  UVB lighting helps in creating vitamin D3 to metabolize calcium in reptiles.


The Argus monitor can accept several humidity levels. They tend to be better in a more humid and damp atmosphere and encourage faster shedding. Humidity levels should be maintained in a range of 60%-80%.


argus monitor substrate

Argus monitors love to dig, and a deep substrate is critical. The adult bedding layer should be 2 feet thick and contain 40-60 free chemical sand / soil mixture, kept moist but still allows for the area to dry.

They are good climbers and will use any climbing area provided. This will also improve their surface area. Just make sure all the trees or logs used are big enough to mount and protect the displays. Concealed boxes, cork stems, and plywood sheets are placed on the substrate.

Plants and Decorations

Argus monitors are very experienced at digging tunnels inside the cage substratum. Large rocks, hollow cork tubes, should be provided in Argus’s enclosure, and stones should be firmly anchored to the cage bottom or walls.


You will help give your reptile a safe, healthy home by learning the right speed and clean-up activities. Soap and hot water can be suitable for daily washing.

A skilled cleaning formula where rough patches and strong odors are present would need to be used. Get a toothbrush or scraper equipped to help you rid the area of debris and coarse dirt and waste.

Wash the goods periodically to remove the buildup of waste particles. One of the most popular substrates these days is a bioactive substrate. You can also change the water if it gets polluted.

Handling Tips

argus monitor lighting

You would devote at least an hour a day with them. The Argus Monitor is an aggressive animal. It’s a brave and adventurous species to be seen in the vivarium. Still, the Argus monitor doesn’t like being picked up. It won’t usually be embraced even with repeated treatment.

Defensive Argus monitors often stand on their hind legs and tails (known as “tri podding”) and expand the throat to make it look bigger and scary. And they will emit a long, slow, deep sound of suffocation to keep you away from them.

Argus Monitor Health

Common Health Issues – While having the safest conditions, your pet can still acquire many health-related issues. These issues range from cuts, burns, constipation, and respiratory infections.

The most common health concern for reptiles is vitamin D3 deficiency. A proper lighting device can be used inside the enclosure to avoid injury and vitamin deficiencies.

An Argus monitor is a strong lizard and will not get sick easily. Basic hygiene, fresh food, safe temperatures, and a stress-free cage environment should be provided for essential argus monitor care.

Healthy Signs – Typically, a good reptile is cold and alert. The eyes of a safe reptile should be bright and clean. The skin can always be tight without noticeable signs of bagginess. Loose skin often indicates that a reptile may have some health issue.

Argus Monitor Food & Diet

argus monitor diet

Feed your pet normally 4-5 days a week with food products such as mice, rodents, chickens, and giant locusts. They are intelligent species with a reasonably fast reptile metabolism.

Typical food items are insects such as cricket or mega worms, mice killed prematurely, day chickens, fish, and crayfish. I genuinely believe that the best meal for Argus specie is meatballs, eggs, and organic products sold in grocery stores. These “meat” products are part of the carnivorous lizard’s nutritional needs and are rich in phosphorus and calcium. Boiled eggs or strands of lean meat are considered Argus’s healthy diet.

Most Argus dietary supplements should be done with insects. Insects should be dusted several times a week with high-quality mineral ingredients.

Argus Monitor Behavior & Temperament

The Argus Monitor is a predator inhabiting a wide range of biomes and habitats. They are mostly terrestrial, which means they spend a lot of time on the ground.

Argus Monitors are avaricious predators that target any small animal for food. What is unique about them is their ability to stand on their hind legs backed by the tail to scan the prey area. They’re quick and suddenly engaged, and they don’t like being treated or restrained

argus monitor care

Argus Monitor FAQ

Are argus monitors easy to take care of?

No, they are very aggressive animals, so special care and precautions should be taken to deal with them. Sometimes you have to wear gloves to treat with them.

Do argus monitors like to be handled?

Sometimes they do not like to be handled. They are known as a display animal.

How often should you handle an argus monitor?

You should handle Argus only when you need it, for example, when you have to feed or clean the cage.

Does a argus monitor bite hurt?

Argus Monitors typically don’t bite. If you don’t look after the Argus properly, it could not be amicable. They could bite in an unpleasant situation. You need to scrub the bite area with a decent antiseptic and call the doctor as soon as possible to prevent infection and other diseases.


If you’re dreaming about keeping an argus monitor as a pet, then you should be fully aware of the potential risks. It may be a danger to your health or animal life at home or in your field. In other cases, it could be completely ok.

Hopefully we helped you learn about argus monitor care and what they need for their environent.


Having grown up with geckos and a bearded dragon as pets, my passion for reptiles has sparked once again! When I'm not writing about reptiles, I can be found gaming and maintaining physical shape.

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