Monitor Lizards? - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-24-2012, 05:28 AM Thread Starter
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Monitor Lizards?

So I really, really love to own a snake or a monitor lizard. Really any big lizard. They are so cool and fascinating and I have already gotten the chance to hold one and I am okay with it. I mean, this is a big want on my list. I love snakes (boas, pythons, ect.) and I would so love to own one. Same way with the monitor lizards and other such giant reptiles. Tegus even.
Well I know these types of animals eat live/dead rodents and I can't do that. >.< I am a big rodent fan (have been a past rat owner, current gerbil owner, past mouse owner, current degu owner) so feeding something like that to a giant lizard is not something I would really favor doing. Is there anything that I can supplement for it? Like raw chicken or some other type of meat? I can easily do that.
I have seen and heard of people that do that, but it comes with possible side effects and the animal is not as healthy. Is that true? I just want to check into all of this before I went and actually got one. Cause I am very specific about what type of care my animals get.
Unless you guys know of vegetarian-based diet snakes and lizards? Haha. Doubt it. Well I know the green Iguana is a herbivore/omnivore and I would also like to own one of those. I have had past experiences with Iguanas and although my first impression was getting bitten on the face by my brother's, I still love them! He feeds his all vegetables and Iggie is perfectly healthy! I understand they are a more advanced animal and are for more professional keepers but I have already owned one and she lasted 12-15 years under my care and she was very affectionate. So? What do you guys think?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-24-2012, 04:43 PM
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All snakes are pure carnivores, though there are many that do not eat rodents, though not many are commercially available. All the larger snakes, pythons and boas, are going to need rodents or rabbits as a diet, though most will eat poultry as well. Smaller snakes, such as the green snake eat insects. Brown snakes eat earthworms. Egg-eating snakes, obviously, eat cheeseburgers... err, no, that's not right, they eat eggs. Many species of ribbon snake and garter snake can do just fine on minnows and small feeder fish. Vine snakes and flying snakes eat primarily lizards. There are even some less commonly available snakes, like the snail eating snake.

As for monitor lizards, you're talking about some 70 different species, at least a dozen of which are readily available in the pet trade. Some get big, some don't. Some will do just fine their whole lives on a supplemented insect diet, like Timor Monitors and Savannah Monitors, but obviously the larger the lizard, the larger the food item needs to be to get it enough nutrition. They can eat pretty much any meat, and they don't tend to be particularly picky. In the wild they're generally scavengers before they are hunters. The problem is, that whole-prey items give a better nutritional balance than feeding just random meat pieces. Organ meat, such as from the liver, provides essential nutrients that they can't get by just eating a drumstick. So for whole body nutrition, you really don't want to be skimping. Plus, poultry has a higher risk of salmonella, which is already a concern when dealing with monitor lizards. Once you start talking about Nile monitors or water monitors, they're big, exceptionally messy, and even a nice one can be a real chore to handle without getting yourself hurt.

Tegus tend to be omnivorous, and will eat a wide variety of insects, eggs, rodents, as well as fruits and some veggies. The ones I've had come through here don't seem to be terribly fussy eaters. They do need protein, but you could probably get by without feeding whole rodents, as long as you provided other protein sources, and supplemented with a vitamin powder of some sort.

There are many species of lizards that can be kept just fine on a purely vegetarian diet, iguanas are probably the most obvious herbivore lizard - but probably the worst choice for a pet. Some people get lucky with an iguana, but most of them end up in reptile rescues, or worse off. They are, by far, the most dumped reptile pet. Most other vegetarian lizards tend to be smaller than iguanas. Bearded dragons are probably what I consider the best choice for a pet lizard, and while they are omnivorous, and will eat all manner of insects - and even small rodents, they don't have to be a significant part of their diet for them to do just fine. Then there's various species of agamid and gecko that can be fed on a vegetarian diet, but they're definitely not on the larger side.

So what is your specific qualm with feeding rodents? If it is the live feeding thing, that is an easy fix. I buy all my mice and rats frozen and pre-packaged, vacuum sealed on Styrofoam meat trays. I thaw out what I need, as I need it, and feed it to my animals. My rabbits come from a commercial meat supplier. No rodent-eating snake or lizard requires live prey in captivity, and in fact it is dangerous.

I generally try to discourage people from keeping animals they might have qualms about feeding. If a natural part of its diet is just not something you want to deal with, a monitor lizard or snake probably isn't the best choice for a pet. They aren't a great choice for a pet for many people, as is. Especially the larger species.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-24-2012, 10:51 PM
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I would go for a bearded dragon. (I'm not biased at all... ) They have the personality of a larger lizard, but aren't going to be nearly as much work. They can get up to 24" or so, so they are still a decent size.

I've never fed mine rodents, and don't plan on doing so. It's questionable on whether or not it's actually good for them. They do great on a variety of bugs and veggies. If I had to I wouldn't have a problem with feeding f/t though.



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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 04:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jess View Post
I would go for a bearded dragon. (I'm not biased at all... )
hahahaha that made me laugh

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 04:46 AM Thread Starter
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@Ravnos... thanks! that was a pretty informational little piece you did there! the main reason i don't like feeding mice or rats is because i have owned rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters and a lot of different forms of "rodents" and whenever i see somebody feeding a rodent to their reptile, it reminds me too much of mine and then i feel sad i don't think it would matter if they were pre-killed and frozen cause i can't really handle that either
and also, i would like to assure you that Iguanas can be great pets! they just require the proper owners and care, along with socialization... most people don't realize that that cute little green lizard the size of your hand will grow to be 4feet+ and they don't have enough room to house one... that and they didn't put forth the effort to properly tame it when it was young so they have a wild and crazy Iguana

@Jess... one of my friends did suggest Bearded Dragons to me... she was a past Beardie owner... maybe i'll look into it
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 11:52 AM
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I had a really long post typed out, but the forum went down, and it was lost.

So, here's the gist: carnivorous and omnivorous reptiles can be fed fresh tilapia fish (not previously frozen--for appropriate species, of course), quail, chickens, and rabbits. So, it isn't necessary to feed rats and mice, although they are the most commonly used. Some monitors, such as the black roughneck monitor, eat mainly insects--albeit LOTS of them--and shouldn't be fed rodents or birds anyhow.

All snakes are obligate carnivores--there's not even an omnivore in the bunch. Snake species that don't eat mammalian prey are generally quite difficult to keep in captivity, and tend not to be large. However, just as with monitors, many snake can be maintained on birds instead of rodents, and the larger ones can also be fed rabbits or even piglets. Experience with an iguana, however, does not prepare you for dealing with a large constrictor--I recommend keeping a small constrictor first, and paying close attention to safe handling rules. Never unlock the cage of a constrictor over 8 feet in length without another knowledgeable person being present, to help in case something goes wrong. Snakes, unlike monitors, aren't extremely bright, and a feeding mistake (the snake smells food on your hands and strikes, for example) is the way that people wind up in the newspapers. A constrictor will constrict until its prey stops moving...and unfortunately, isn't very capable of analyzing the situation until that point. It may realize it hit the wrong target far too late.

Of course, there are many iguana species that you could do very well with, particularly since you have previous iguana experience. Consider the rock iguanas and other land iguanas. Green iguanas still populate reptile shelters, and need good homes. With modern care instructions, they can live for up to 20 years (the key is low protein, and very good hydration, which saves their kidneys).
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 11:58 AM
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I had a really long post typed out, but the forum went down, and it was lost.

So, here's the gist: carnivorous and omnivorous reptiles can be fed fresh tilapia fish (not previously frozen--for appropriate species, of course), quail, chickens, and rabbits. So, it isn't necessary to feed rats and mice, although they are the most commonly used. Some monitors, such as the black roughneck monitor, eat mainly insects--albeit LOTS of them--and shouldn't be fed rodents or birds anyhow.

All snakes are obligate carnivores--there's not even an omnivore in the bunch. Snake species that don't eat mammalian prey are generally quite difficult to keep in captivity, and tend not to be large. However, just as with monitors, many snake can be maintained on birds instead of rodents, and the larger ones can also be fed rabbits or even piglets. Experience with an iguana, however, does not prepare you for dealing with a large constrictor--I recommend keeping a small constrictor first, and paying close attention to safe handling rules. Never unlock the cage of a constrictor over 8 feet in length without another knowledgeable person being present, to help in case something goes wrong. Snakes, unlike monitors, aren't extremely bright, and a feeding mistake (the snake smells food on your hands and strikes, for example) is the way that people wind up in the newspapers. A constrictor will constrict until its prey stops moving...and unfortunately, isn't very capable of analyzing the situation until that point. It may realize it hit the wrong target far too late.

Of course, there are many iguana species that you could do very well with, particularly since you have previous iguana experience. Consider the rock iguanas and other land iguanas. Green iguanas still populate reptile shelters, and need good homes. With modern care instructions, they can live for up to 20 years (the key is low protein, and very good hydration, which saves their kidneys).
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-04-2012, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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i have searched petfinder and i know there are a lot of poor homeless Iguanas on there so you're saying a smaller snake such and a Ball Python could maybe be raised on those fish you talked about? or is that still a big snake?

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-04-2012, 01:35 PM
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Snakes that eat fish:

Garter snakes
Ribbon snakes
Water snakes
Green anaconda

(Genera: Thamnophis, Nerodia, Eunectes). The green anaconda is the exception to the 'small snakes' rule, of course, but unfortunately it is also A) part of the constrictor ban, and thus can't be transported across State lines, and B) an ill-tempered giant that should only be kept by highly experienced snake keepers who have a companion on hand to help if things go wrong. I have never heard of anyone maintaining captive green anacondas on fish, and I would hate to clean up after one that was fed that, but they eat plenty of fish in the wild, so there's no reason why you couldn't).

The vast majority of pythons and boas eat warm-blooded prey, and a ball python (which lives on the African Savannah) will not touch fish. They will, however, eat baby chickens.

What constitutes an appropriate diet depends on species--savannah monitors may do great on a diet of supplemented ground turkey, live insects and worms, and frozen/thawed quail, while ball pythons will eat only rodents and birds. Some larger pythons will eat birds, rabbits, and piglets. Black roughneck monitors do best on a diet of insects and worms (in large quantity).
There are options other than rodents for most species, but in some cases the only viable option will be birds or other mammals, while in others there's a wide range of food choices.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-04-2012, 01:44 PM
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if you find that you want a snake that will eat chicks you need to find a supplier before you find your snake.

the budget for food if you are not willing to feed frozen rats and mice is going to be higher, and even if you do feed frozen mice and rats the cost is high. Some states have certian bans so check that out as well, as well as any sate you think you may live in in the future.

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post #11 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-04-2012, 06:27 PM
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RodentPro carries frozen chicks, quail, and rabbits. The prices on chicks are comparable to the prices for rodents.

Buying frozen feeders in bulk, the food bill for a snake is going to be between $2 and $15 per month, depending on the size of the snake. Giants may be more.

Last edited by WingedWolfPsion; 08-04-2012 at 06:30 PM.
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