Black Throat Monitors

Black throat monitor sleeping. From East Bay Vivarium in Berkeley, California, USA.
Black throat monitor sleeping on a black surface. Derrick Coetzee/Wikimedia Commons/CC0 1.0

The black throat monitor (also known as the black-throated monitor or Varanus albigularis ionidesi), is a large lizard with a typically mild temperament when kept as a pet. Black throat monitors eat whole prey items such as mice, require an extremely large enclosure, and grow to be over 50 lbs. They are related to the more commonly cared for savannah monitor.

Black Throat Monitors in the Wild

Black throat monitors (i.e. black-throated monitors, Ionides monitors, Varanus albigularis ionidesi, Varanus albigularis albigularis, Varanus albigularis microstictus, or Cape monitors) are native to an East-African country called Tanzania.

Taxonomists have disagreed on species and subspecies, hence the many name variations of the Black throat monitor. In Tanzania they usually have a warm, tropical climate where it stays over 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round (except at the higher elevations).

In the wilds of Tanzania, they are carnivores and eat small reptiles, birds and rodents. They can grow to be over four feet in length and are in the same family of lizards as the Komodo dragon, savannah monitors, and Nile monitors.

Black Throat Monitor Care

Black throat monitor lizards require a large and strong enclosure. Due to their size, most people end up building a permanent enclosure for their black throats out of wood, Plexiglass, or other materials. The enclosure must be, at the very least, large enough for your monitor to turn around and stretch out. Therefore, if your monitor is four feet long from their nose to the tip of their tail, your enclosure should be, at the extreme minimum, four feet long.

Ideally, an extra few feet or more should be added to allow your monitor to walk around some in the enclosure.

Black throat monitors can be walked outside in warm weather with a harness and leash. This is great for your monitor in many ways. Socialization, UVB rays, and exercise are three benefits of taking your monitor to the park, especially if your enclosure isn't as large as you and your monitor would like.

You'll both love all the attention you draw from bystanders. 

Black throat monitors are not good swimmers but they are semi-arboreal, especially as juveniles. Adults don't climb as much as they do when they are younger, but they are still able to lumber up a branch if they need to. They also spend a good amount of time burrowing or hiding under rocks.

Feeding Black Throat Monitors

Being carnivores, black throat monitors eat many rodents and birds in captivity. Mice, rats, and other rodents along with young chickens are commonly offered as food. Captive-bred monitors are more likely to eat pre-killed prey while wild-caught monitors may only eat live prey. Insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and cockroaches, can be fed to monitors in addition to their regular meals of rodents and birds. Most monitor owners end up buying pre-killed, frozen mice in bulk online and thaw them as needed to feed. Feed your monitor a few times a week and adjust the meal schedule if they become too thin or overweight. Weigh your monitor monthly so that you can adjust feedings as needed.

Heat and Lighting for Black Throat Monitors

Like other monitors, black throats require UVB rays and heat support. Reptile heat lights and special UVB emitting bulbs can be used to provide your pet with appropriate temperatures and a day/night cycle with the invisible rays that the sun emits.

Black Throat Monitor Personality

Like all monitors, if not handled regularly, black throat monitors can become aggressive and lash out at you with their tails, puff up their body, hiss and even deliver a nasty bite. But despite their ability to really hurt you, black throat monitors are known to be pretty docile and have mild temperaments in captivity.