Crocodile Monitor Care – Habitat Requirements, Health, Diet, Pet Guide

Crocodile Monitor Care – Habitat Requirements, Health, Diet, Pet Guide

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

Species Summary

Crocodile monitors are considered to be the top predators in the regions of New Guinea and islands near it. It is scientifically named as Varanus Salvadorri. They are arboreal and diurnal, large-sized lizards having origin from Southeast Asia. They are typically found in heavy rainforest areas. These monitors can show variation in their colors and sizes according to regions.

Crocodile Monitor Availability

Crocodile monitors are commonly found on the New Guinea and Papua New Guinea Island. They are common inhabitants of areas having tropical rainforests and the forests found near rivers. Currently, this specie does not need to be conserved and does not face any imminent threats. They could face threats locally due to habitat loss.


crocodile monitor enclosure

In captivity, crocodile monitors have a life expectancy of 10-15 years and sometimes can reach up to 20 years, which is quite a long lifespan. In natural environments, their lifespan is not known.

Crocodile Monitor Appearance

These lizards have long tails, constituting about two-thirds of the total body length. The crocodile monitors use such strong, powerful tails for their defense. They have sharp, serrated flat teeth, which they use to capture the prey and for their protection.

The heads of adult males are larger and broader than females and have tiny hemipenal bulges present on the head.


The crocodile monitor lizard is considered to be the longest of all monitor lizards. Their weight can be up to 44 pounds, with a length of about 8 feet. Out of the total, two-third of this length accounts for the tail. In the first few years after hatching, a growth rate of two inches per month is observed in captivity.


The coloration of this lizard varies according to the area of inhabitance. The bodies of crocodile monitors are blackish-green in color, having strips and spots of bright yellow color.

Crocodile Monitor Morphs

The crocodile monitor differs in the color range of its morphs. These monitors are usually black, with green, yellow, and white dots and specks in different morphs.

Crocodile Monitor Facts

Crocodile Monitor Terrarium Requirements

crocodile monitor habitat

The terrariums typically used for crocodile monitor care are usually taller with less width; these are longer in size to allow enough space for the monitor to move freely.


  • The cage’s dimensions for successfully keeping the adult crocodile monitors should have 18 feet length, 10 feet width, and 12 feet tall.
  • For Juvenile crocodile monitors, the cage should have a length of 8 feet, a width of 8 feet, and 10 feet height.
  • Baby monitors should be kept in a cage having dimensions of 4 feet length, 4 feet width, and 6 feet height


Crocodile monitors do best when provided with a basking area of 110-120⁰F, while the cage’s temperature to be 90⁰F works best during the day. To serve the purpose of thermoregulation, cool regions should also be included in the cage. At night, providing 70⁰F mimics in the best way the typical natural climate of New Guinea.


Crocodile monitors can be kept in cages with basking lights, natural sunlight, or UV lights. UV lights are recommended for monitors to help them in absorbing calcium and metabolizing it to vitamin D3. Fluorescent bulbs are a good source of UV light. Mercury bulbs, UVB bulbs, and heat bulbs are used. Also, there are triple duty bulbs available, which can serve for all three purposes.


Crocodile monitors like to bath in the water daily as they inhabit the moist rain forest. So in captivity, they should be provided with a container in which they can enjoy bathing, but the water should be changed regularly in the container to keep the environment clean. Relative humidity of 70% and above best suits the crocodile monitors. As they are kept in relatively low humidity levels, a misting system needs to be installed in the cage.


crocodile monitor substrate

The substrate chosen should be able to retain moisture without harboring infectious agents such as molds and bacteria. It should also serve as a soft zone to help the monitors jump without harm from high areas in the cage. Peat moss, gravel, mulch, natural earth, barks, and wood shavings of several types can be used as substrates for crocodile monitors. The substrate height should be 0.3 meters to help maintain humidity levels.

Plants and Decorations

For excellent monitor keeping, creativity is necessary; tree branches, tree trunks, and rootstocks serve as tremendous obstacles, climbing surfaces, and hides. They are best to use in an enclosure to provide an activity to your crocodile monitor. These lizards enjoy climbing and require a large space for climbing surfaces and shelves. It is suitable to angle the climbing surfaces horizontally.  For energizing your crocodile monitor and allowing natural behavior, dig boxes are necessary.


The enclosure should be clean all the time, change the water bowl daily, as the monitors will not drink the water if it is smelly or even a few hours old. Using a bio-active substrate will help condition the enclosure by using soil living organisms leading to an all-time clean enclosure.

Handling Tips

This species must be dealt with great care as it could be extremely dangerous to its handler. Crocodile monitors have sharp teeth and a strong tail, which they use for their defense. In case the monitor is handled roughly, they could sometimes become aggressive and use their strong tail in a whip-like motion, which may injure the handler. Their bites can result in finger amputations and deep wounds that require hospitalization.

The captive-bred crocodile monitors are less nervous than wild-caught ones, although both are sometimes aggressive.

There are cases also documented, which show the tamed nature of these lizards, which even respond to commands like “fetch.”

Crocodile Monitor Health

crocodile monitor health

Common Health Issues: Some significant problems regarding the health of crocodile monitors are seen in their teeth. Their teeth can sometimes become embedded into the gums leading to infection of gums and require treatment. The gums of crocodile monitors frequently bleed, resulting from biting their prey, as a response of fear or maybe due to naturally cutting new teeth.

Recent studies have reported the cause of death in crocodile monitors to be the complications resulting from egg impaction, stomach abscess, mouth abscess, lesions in the brain and liver, or infection due to bite wound.

The crocodile monitors like basking, which may cause cataracts, resulting in even blindness in some individuals.

They may have parasitic infections such as oxyurids, mite ova, cestodes, strongyloids, and even harbor flagellates.

Crocodile Monitor Food & Diet

crocodile monitor diet

In natural environments, crocodile monitors feed on birds and mammals and sometimes fish.

In captivity, you can feed crocodile monitors with rabbits, mice, and rats. Birds such as quails and chickens are also provided to the monitors most often, hard-boiled eggs, shelled eggs, and specialized zoo diets are also some good options of feeding. Feeding may be done twice a week in adults and frequently in young monitors in a week. Feeding may be increased to many meals a week according to the requirements and the environmental conditions.

To avoid injury to the keeper, the crocodile monitors should be fed with tongues and snake forceps in captivity. Food should be placed on a bare surface to prevent the substrate from being eaten along with the food.

Crocodile Monitor Behavior & Temperament

These monitors are quite intelligent. But they are not for a beginner; they can be handled by advanced handlers only. As they mature, they like to keep the authoritative power in their territory due to their hormones.

Crocodile Monitor FAQ

Are crocodile monitors easy to take care of?

Crocodile monitors are not meant to be kept by the beginners. They are large-sized lizards and can bite with sharp teeth, so be cautious while choosing them for keeping in captivity.

Do crocodile monitors like to be handled?

No, they don’t like to be handled, be cautious while handling them. They can use their large tails as a whip and can hurt you. They are quite aggressive, and their sharp teeth can easily bite you when disturbed.

Does a crocodile monitor bite hurt?

Definitely yes, the crocodile monitors teeth are very sharp, they can bite, and their bite is excruciating. Cases have been reported of fingers amputation and deep wounds due to crocodile monitor’s bite in the past.


Crocodile monitors are the largest known lizards, which are famous for their intelligence. While thinking about keeping these as pets, you should access your expertise. If you are a beginner, make sure you do not choose crocodile monitors as pets. They can be extremely harmful to the inexperienced beginners. They don’t like to be handled. It would be best to go for a smaller sized lizard to choose as a pet in captivity. Advanced herpers can keep these lizards with care and optimum enclosure environments, making them comfortable.


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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