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Keeping Lizards as Pets: Is it a Good Idea?

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Monitor lizards can make excellent pets for the right person, but they are a very different experience than owning a pet such as a dog or cat. Keeping monitor lizards requires patience, learning new skills, and caring for them adequately on a daily basis. While keeping a lizard as a pet may seem like fun, a monitor lizard is a major commitment and not a pet for most people.

There are currently about 80 species of monitor lizards and 4,675 species of lizards in the world. Not every monitor lizard makes a good pet, as some lizards can grow much larger than others. Monitor lizards are one of the largest lizard species in the world. The Komodo dragon is also a monitor lizard, the largest living lizard species. While not all monitor lizards grow to be giants, it's important to know what kind of lizard you're keeping.

Monitor lizards can be great pets for reptile lovers, but they're a huge commitment. In this article, you'll learn how to keep a monitor lizard as a pet to determine if it's right for you. Lizards may be exciting creatures, but they are wild animals that require a lot of care to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Let's learn how to keep monitor lizards as pets and see if you're up for the challenge.

Can you keep monitor lizards as pets?

Green Tree Monitor Lizard
There are 80 different species of monitor lizards.

© Arpingstone / Public Domain – License

Keeping monitor lizards as pets is legal in the United States, but that doesn't mean it's the best idea. Monitor lizards are not ideal pets for beginner or even intermediate reptile owners, as they require very specific care. Before acquiring a monitor lizard, you should do as much research as possible to ensure you are up to the challenge. Under the right circumstances, they can make amazing pets, but if you're not prepared, they can be dangerous for you and the animal.

Monitor lizards are intelligent animals that can become docile with proper care. While they'll never be dog-like, some will seek attention and enjoy playing with humans. If you are considering purchasing a monitor lizard, you should consider:

  • A Long-Term Commitment to Animals
  • Monitor lizards need a larger living space
  • As wild animals, they are sometimes unpredictable
  • They can be expensive to purchase and maintain
  • Monitor lizard has a partially venomous bite
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Before you go out and buy monitor lizards, you should know what you're committing to and the care they'll require. Finding the right species is important, as some species can grow very large. If you're considering buying a monitor lizard, there are some species that make better pets than others.

small reptile
Baby monitors can be cute, but some can grow to the size of a dog.

©iStock.com/genphoto_art

There are about 80 species of monitor lizards, some more popular than others. It's important to know what kind of monitor lizard you're buying before buying. Some monitors, such as Asian monitors and blackthroat monitors, look as small as babies but grow very large.

Monitor lizards are one of the largest lizard species in the world. Black-throated monitor lizards are a popular pet, but can grow up to 7 feet. Keeping monitor lizards is not for the beginner reptile lover and should not be taken lightly.

Here are some of the most popular monitor lizard species to keep as pets:

  • Ackies Short Monitor
  • prairie monitor
  • black throated monitor lizard
  • Asian Water Monitor
  • white throated monitor lizard
  • Green Tree Monitor
  • nile jellyfish

Even smaller monitor lizards can be rare if you're not prepared. Knowing how to care for them and what they need is the best way to decide if this exotic pet is right for you. Ackies are one of the best pet monitors because of their small size. They're also easier to maintain than larger monitors.

caring for monitor lizards

newly hatched monitor lizard on hand
In states like Florida, the monitors have become invasive because of people releasing them in the wild.

©willyumn/Shutterstock.com

Learning how to properly care for a monitor lizard can be difficult for beginning reptile owners, which is why it's best to have experience with this animal if you decide to keep one as a pet. Having a proper home and knowing how to keep your lizard healthy is important to giving your lizard a long life. When cared for properly, monitor lizards generally live to be around 8 to 30 years old, depending on the species.

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housing

Your monitor lizard needs a species-specific environment in order to be healthy and happy. The lizard's cage needs to be as large as possible, the smallest will vary depending on the size of the lizard. For example, a medium-sized monitor lizard would need a container that is at least 5' x 4' x 4' to have plenty of room. Larger lizards will require more space.

In enclosures, lizards need about 12 hours of UVB lighting per day. Reptile bulbs can be purchased at the store, as well as other items to provide enough heat for their home. To keep your lizard busy, decorations can be used to replicate its natural habitat and provide it with places to climb.

Different species require specific environments, so getting to know your species will do the best to keep them healthy. Substrate is also needed in monitor lizard cages to replicate dirt. Most of the tools needed to keep monitor lizards can be purchased at pet stores. These large lizards can be expensive and require a lot of space. Moisture, light, and enough space are needed to keep them comfortable in your home. It's common for some people to use an entire room as a monitor lizard's home.

feeding monitor lizards

What Monitor Lizards Eat - Water monitor lizards eat mice
Monitor lizards are able to breathe and run, traits not found in other lizards. This helps them hunt down their prey.

©Valt Ahyppo/Shutterstock.com

If you want to keep a pet monitor lizard, they must be fed regularly. In the wild, monitor lizards are hunters and scavengers, eating a variety of animals they may encounter. Here are some things monitor lizards eat in the wild:

  • carrion
  • snake
  • sea turtle
  • other lizards
  • Egg
  • insect

Smaller lizards usually only eat insects and other small invertebrates. Monitor lizards are mostly carnivores, so you must feed them meat 1 to 2 times a week. Baby lizards are fed 2 to 3 times a week and juveniles are fed every other day. A constant water source or water bowl should be provided so they can stay hydrated.

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Some things you can feed your pet monitor lizard include cockroaches, mealworms, crickets, and grasshoppers. You can also buy monitor lizard food at the pet store that contains all the right nutrients. Human food and other animal foods should not be offered to these lizards as this can make them sick. Larger lizards can be fed foods such as mice, chicks, shrimp, turkey, and fish.

Are Monitor Lizards Dangerous?

monitor lizard on island of borneo
Komodo dragons are the largest lizard species in the world.

© elena_photo_soul/Shutterstock.com

Monitor lizards only bite when provoked or when they feel threatened. Keeping monitor lizards can be dangerous if you don't know how to treat them properly. Monitor lizard bites are not fatal, but they are venomous and can cause severe pain. The tail is also powerful, allowing for a powerful whip.

Knowing how to handle monitors is important to keeping them safely as pets. If you have no experience with reptiles or monitor lizards, it may not be a good idea to keep monitor lizards as pets. Monitor lizards are less dangerous if you know how to deal with them or let them live in peace. If you're planning to keep a monitor lizard as a pet, it's a good idea to know everything there is to know about these giant dragon-like lizards. They're cool animals, but extremely difficult pets to keep.

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alligator monitor
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about the author

Emilio Brown


Spiders, snakes, and lizards are some of my favorite types of animals, and I love keeping a few species as pets. I love learning about all the wonders nature has to offer and have been a writer for 5 years. In my spare time, you will find me walking into nature.

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