Mangrove Monitor Care Sheet

Mangrove Monitor

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Mangrove monitor
Scientific Name:Varanus indicus
Life Span:12 to 20 years in captivity
Size:2 ½ to 4 feet
Habitat:Warm and humid areas with trees close to streams and rivers
Country of Origin:Australia and New Guinea

Physical Description

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Mangrove monitor, also called mangrove goanna, is the monitor lizard species found in the Western Pacific. The mangrove monitor is a member of the monitor lizard family that has a big distribution from New Guinea and northern Australia extending to Solomon Islands, Moluccas, Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, and the Mariana Islands.

The length of a mangrove monitor ranges from 75 up to 120 centimeters long. Its head is narrow and long, but its neck is quite long. The strongly compressed tail is nearly 2x longer than its body. 

The mangrove monitor also comes with dark colorations that have different tiny, yellow spots. When it comes to the eyes, they have dark brown iris enclosed by a golden-colored ring. Also, there are Sulphur yellow palpebral surrounding the eyes. The rest of the eyelids are white. 

Likewise, the mouth of a mangrove monitor is occasionally delineated with red, which may either scare the predators or attract the prey. This red substance is blood combined with saliva. The Komodo dragon looks quite similar to the mangrove monitor in terms of coloration. 

Moreover, the mangrove monitor comes with 4 well-developed, strong legs with each having 5 sharp and clawed toes. The face of this monitor lizard has a smooth, glossy feel with huge scales. Its tail and body are covered with the small oval-shaped keeled scales. Its teeth are jagged along the front and back edges. The lizard’s dentary teeth are pointing slightly laterally while its maxillary teeth are directing vertically. 


The mangrove monitor is common across Northern Australia and New Guinea. It can be found in the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Caroline Islands, and the Mariana Islands. This monitor lizard lives in damp forests beside the coastal rivers, inland lakes, and mangroves. The species, however, may differ in pattern, size, and scalation. 


The mangrove monitor has been known to be an opportunistic carnivorous animal. It eats the eggs of other reptiles, birds, mollusks, rodents, insects, crabs, carrion, fish, and small lizards. This species of monitor lizard can catch fish in subterranean water. In certain areas, the mangrove monitor can feast on young crocodiles. 

Mating and Reproduction

Resulta ng larawan para sa mangrove monitors hatching eggs

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Each clutch produced by a female mangrove monitor contains approximately 2 to 12 eggs. Its clutch is somewhat smaller than the clutch from a medium-sized monitor lizard considering the size of a mangrove monitor. 

In one report, a female monitor lizard laid up to 22 eggs in 3 years by having several clutches containing 1 to 4 eggs, respectively. In captivity, a female mangrove monitor can lay up to 25 eggs in 5 clutches for more than 2 years. the varying size of the clutch goes to show that the mangrove monitor tends to reproduce endlessly if there is stable food supply, producing big numbers of small clutches. 

The eggs of a female lizard measure 3.5 to 5 centimeters. They are white and oblong and will hatch in around 7 to 8 months. The mother lizard may guard the eggs, but she will let the hatchlings live on their own. 

Guam has been the nesting area for a mangrove monitor. Its nesting spot was in the guano deposits of Aerodromus vanikorensis, a bird that lives in a cave. Egg shards were seen on the site. 

In terms of courtship, a male mangrove monitor entices a female to mate by showing behavioral and physical control over the female. The male may also fight for the female. 


The mangrove monitor is sometimes an opportunistic predator considering its feeding behavior. In a study conducted in 1993, the researchers found that this species of monitor lizard living in the Southern Mariana Islands changed big prey classes that reflect the changes within the existing prey base. 

This animal is a common predator of the land snail called Achatina Fulica. Its population has significantly reduced because of the predaceous flatworms known as the Platydemus Manokwari. Also, the mangrove monitor eats slugs. However, the population of the slugs also reduced a lot because of the Cane toad or Bufo marinus. This monitor lizard is also a shrew lover, but its population also reduced in Guam because of the brown tree snake.

The mangrove monitor seems fine with being raised in captivity. But the male lizard tends to be more hostile than a female. When it feels threatened, the lizard will defecate on what it believes to be a threat. Whether male or female, a mangrove monitor can be so shy and nervous.

Copulation does not occur if you keep a male and female mangrove monitors in one enclosure, unless when the breeding time comes in. When mating, the male mangrove monitor will mount on the female and use its chin in rubbing the dorsum of a female in its forequarters and head. While the male is on top of the female, they will slowly rotate in the clockwise direction through a 360-degree angle. The male mangrove monitor will remain superior as they both do it. 

Contact with People

People have introduced this monitor lizard to the Pacific Islands during the 1930s. The animal has been found in the west portion of the Caroline Islands since World War II. The Japanese also introduced it to the Marshall Islands before World War II to help in eliminating the harmful rats. 

The population of mangrove monitors in these areas increased and started to attack the local chicken homes. When the American soldiers arrived, the natives asked for their help in eliminating the pesky mangrove monitors. For that purpose, they used the marine toad that has been proven harmful and deadly to these lizards. 

As the population of the mangrove monitors decreased, however, the population of rats started to rise. The marine toads were introduced to Palau Islands for the same reason. The death of mangrove monitors resulted in the increased population of the beetles that destroy the coconuts. 

People have been hunting the mangrove monitor for its skin and used it in the production of leather used in crafting drum heads. Though the worldwide trade in this animal is small, the mangrove monitor was among the most significantly exploited species of monitor lizards. In 1980, the commercial trade in more than 13,000 mangrove monitors was revealed. In the remote areas, however, people were searching for these lizards for food. In some cases, people killed them for killing domestic animals. A tribe in Guam treats the mangrove monitors as traditional food, and there was a business that sells these lizards for food. 

The Animal and Plant Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture said that it would use a mix of 2 poisonous substances, the brodifacoum, and diphacinone in killing the rats in Cocos Island in Guam. They’ll also try to reduce the population of mangrove monitors in the area by 80 percent by using the trapping methods introduced by Seamus Ehrhard, a herpetologist. They believed the mangrove monitors prey upon the Guam rail, which is an endangered species. However, most of the locals said they don’t see these lizards as pests. Likewise, some activists showed their disapproval of the proposal to reduce the population of the mangrove monitors in Cocos Island. 

The mangrove monitors are usually kept in the zoos and as personal collections because they are alert and active. Also, these lizards turn into good pets when tamed properly. With utmost care, these four-legged pets can last for 2 decades in captivity. 

Venom and Bite

A mangrove monitor has venom glands that release venom once it bites that can be fatal to other animals. People are looking for this animal to get their skin, which they use in making leather and meat for food. This monitor lizard is more likely to bite. It can harm an animal or even a human. A mangrove monitor is a quick-moving animal.

In captivity, aggression is more likely to see in a male mangrove monitor. It will bite a human when scared. Therefore, one has to take extra precautions in handling this species. 

The Mangrove Monitor in Captivity

The mangrove monitor could become a nice pet provided that it receives good care and enough attention from its keeper. If you want to keep an animal like this, then make sure that you give it everything it needs. Keep in mind the primary requirements and always ensure your pet’s diet. 

Avoid too frequent handling and even rough handling, which may eventually lead to getting yourself hurt. When terrified, the mangrove monitor may bite with those sharp teeth or scratch with those pointed claws. 

How to Care for a Mangrove Monitor?

The mangrove monitor requires intense care. This animal is arboreal and semi-aquatic by nature, so it spends most of its time in or near the water. In captivity, this lizard needs a warm, moist, and spacious enclosure with the branches for basking and climbing. Also, it needs to have a big water container designed for soaking and swimming. When it comes to diet, it has to be regular and well-balanced. 


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Keep in mind that a mangrove monitor tends to grow into a significant size. Therefore, it is so important to house it in a bigger cage measuring 6 feet long and 2.5 feet deep even when it’s still a hatchling. Switching to a larger enclosure, in the long run, can be too daunting to do. For a hatchling, the enclosure should have more hideaways and shelters. 

The mangrove monitor is normally easy to take care of, but the main thing to keep in mind is its need for a big space. You may keep a baby mangrove monitor in a 15-20 gallon tank or a vivarium, but the animal will grow fast. A fully grown lizard will then needs its cage to be at least 3 ft. wide, 6 ft. long, and 3 ft. tall. In the woods, the mangrove monitor is arboreal, which means it likes to climb. This animal is a good swimmer as well as it can stay underwater for food and survive for up to 45 minutes. 

You may decorate the enclosure of your pet with live plants, wood, rocks, and sand substrate. The species looks to be at its best when kept in the tropical-like vivarium or aquarium that has a basking spot, a mix of Chola wood and moss for hiding spots, and a big water dish where the mangrove monitor can easily climb into.

Also, you need to keep the water in the bowl clean by replacing it in an alternating-day routine. Use a spray bottle in misting down the enclosure every two to three days. Misting the enclosure is beneficial for your pet, especially when it sheds its old skin.

For the basking area, you can add a UV bulb placed on top of either the left or right side of the cage. This will create a temperature gradient, allowing the mangrove monitor to switch from side to side and stay in the area with the ideal temperature.

Of course, the enclosure for your mangrove monitor is incomplete if it does not have a substrate. The animal will be happy if the substrate is made of cypress mulch as it can effectively retain the moisture. Cypress mulch is an excellent choice for most reptiles, including the monitor lizards. 

Lighting and Heating

The mangrove monitor originates from Northern Australia and nearby countries. Thus, it is so used to high temperatures. For that case, you have to keep the right lighting and heating setup for the mangrove monitor if you are planning to keep one. Lighting and heating are among the major factors to consider in ensuring that your pet will get the greatest chance of having a longer life. 

The overall enclosure temperature of 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal with the basking spot and a surface temperature of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You can achieve and maintain this setup by using an ordinary reptile heat bulb. Some keepers suggest the ordinary halogen bulb from the local department shop. 

Whatever way you choose, don’t rush things. Just take your time when installing the lamp to be sure your pet will never get a chance to come closer to the light. If this happens, your pet may get itself burned. 

Another way to prevent it is to add a timer for the light and set it to a 12-hour system. Your mangrove monitor needs 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light. 


This lizard is okay with various substrates. Your best choices include cypress mulch, aspen shavings, newspaper, and soil. Digging and burrowing are two things that your pet will love to do inside the cage, so make sure the substrate is approximately 7 to 8 inches deep.

The mangrove monitor could be a little messy, particularly in terms of its water bowl. The substrate should maintain moisture, but it does not need to be wet for an extended period as it encourages mold to develop. 

Feeding and Watering

If you want to keep a mangrove monitor, then freshwater must be always available for your pet. Any monitor lizard can be a little messy, so you need to do trial and error with a variety of bowls to find the most ideal option for your pet. 

The mangrove monitor eats a range of food that increases in size as it grows. For a hatchling or young lizard, the food should be small enough. Its daily diet may include mealworms, eggs, crickets, and hoppers. For an adult mangrove monitor, you can offer something like mice, chicks, small rats, and seafood like crayfish. 


Resulta ng larawan para sa mangrove monitors

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Taming a mangrove monitor is by knowing the animal. For example, when it is in a bad mood, then you must never try to hold or do anything that can bother the animal. You will know that the animal is not in the mood when it turns sideways and draws back its tail. It would also make a hissing sound and swell its neck. 

If the mangrove monitor reacts in those ways when you try to hold it, then don’t force it. Let the animal take its time to adjust to its new environment and help it realize that you are not a threat. For now, come closer to the enclosure without trying to touch the lizard, and do it until the animal is no longer reacting negatively when it sees you. 

From that time, you can start touching the mangrove monitor. Start with short handling time and gradually increase the time once you notice the animal feels okay. Taming a mangrove monitor can be easier if your pet is a baby or young lizard. 

Common Diseases and Health Problems among Mangrove Monitors

A mangrove monitor is a hardy lizard that could live a long and happy life. By providing your pet with a well-balanced meal, proper care, housing, and handling, you can be sure that your pet will live for a long time. 

Sadly, illness and injury can still come in despite giving the best care for your pet. When something wrong happens, you should seek advice and help from a registered veterinarian. Here are the common diseases and injuries that your mangrove monitor may incur:


Your pet may get burned once you let it come closer to the heat source or lighting. Minor burns could be remedied with an antiseptic ointment and soapy water. In preventing burns, be sure that the heat source and lights are all out of your pet’s reach. 

Vitamin D3 and Calcium Deficiency

Metabolic bone disease is the result of the lack of vitamin D3 and calcium in your pet’s diet. Also, it can occur if there is not enough UVB lighting or when there’s too much phosphorus in its food. The symptoms of these vitamin deficiencies include sudden weight loss, lethargy, deformities like inflamed jaw or limbs, softened bones, and constipation. Make sure the lizard is getting the proper lighting, correct food items, and supplementing your pet’s daily diet with vitamin D3 and calcium. All those things will keep your pet safe from these nutritional deficiencies. 

Calcium Over-supplementation

Your mangrove monitor needs vitamin D 3 and calcium to stay healthy, but excessive calcium is also bad for the animal. It can result in hypercalcemia or the presence of excess calcium in the bloodstream that causes a lot of health issues and even death. Adding calcium to your pet’s daily meal in moderation will be the greatest way of preventing this disease. A pinch of vitamin D3 and calcium supplement is normally enough for the adult lizard. 


A mangrove monitor doesn’t pass waste regularly. How often it happens will depend on the temperature inside the enclosure. If you keep your pet at a colder temperature, it may not pass waste regularly. It may also suffer from indigestion. Be sure the cage of your pet is at the ideal temperature as it will help in digestion and prevent constipation. 

Impaction or blockage can lead to constipation. Impaction could be due to eating something that your pet should not ingest. It can be sand, tiny stones, or any other small things. Also, it can be due to a lack of moist in the digestive tract of your pet. Be sure your pet also has quick access to fresh and clean water to keep it hydrated and decrease the possibility of constipation. 


The mangrove monitor is a tough reptile. It’s rarely susceptible to infections under normal conditions. If it’s stressed or kept in the unclean habitat, the animal is more likely to get sick. the symptoms of infections in a mangrove monitor include discoloration, swelling, loss of appetite, and abscess. Keeping the home of your pet clean and stress-free would help you in keeping it healthy and happy. 


Accidents and injuries occur, and at times, it causes scrapes or cuts. Minor injuries are treatable with an antiseptic ointment and soapy water. If the injuries do not heal or there’s a possible infection, further medical care would be necessary. Severe injuries, like fractured bones are usually the result of improper handling or accidents. A trip to the veterinarian would be required. 

Respiratory Infections

The signs of respiratory infections include lethargy, sneezing, and shallow or rapid breathing. Respiratory infections could be due to a too moist or too cold habitat. To stay healthy, your pet needs a habitat that maintains the ideal temperature.

Respiratory issues can be due to parasites that are usually found in the wild-caught mangrove monitors. Parasites like roundworms can reduce the immune system of your pet, making it more liable to diseases. Veterinary treatment as well as maintaining a germ-free housing for the animal will reduce the possibility of health issues associated with the parasites. 


It is the natural occurrence as the mangrove monitor grows. The animal might have patches of the lingering shed but will normally fall off by itself. At times, the shed skin remains stuck on your pet’s tail and toes. To help your pet shed properly, mist the animal with water. A warm bath will also help a lot. 

Availability – Where to Get One?

You may look for a mangrove monitor at the local pet stores and breeders. You can also try searching for it through online stores. 

Facts About the Mangrove Monitor

  • The mangrove monitor is a large reptile that is more common in Asia and Africa.
  • This lizard is often 3.5 to 4 feet long.
  • The lifespan of a mangrove monitor ranges from 12 to 20 years.
  • The female mangrove monitor lays 2 to 12 eggs that are 3.5 to 5 centimeters in length.
  • The eggs of mangrove monitors will hatch in around 7 to 8 months.
  • The mangrove monitor can live for up to twenty years in captivity provided that the animal receives proper care. 


Are mangroSve monitors aggressive?

Male lizards are more prone to aggression than females. This behavior can become more noticeable during the mating season. 

Are mangrove monitors friendly?

The mangrove monitors are not sociable animals as they tend to be shy. Proper handling is key to taming these lizards. 

What do the mangrove monitors eat?

The mangrove monitors are opportunistic carnivores. They eat reptiles, mollusks, birds, rodents, crabs, insects, fish, small lizards, and carrion. 

How long do mangrove monitors grow?

Adult mangrove monitors grow between 3 to 5 feet long. Males are bigger than females. 

Do mangrove monitors have venom?

The mangrove monitors have special glands that release venom that can be deadly to other animals. This venom is released when these lizards bite.

Do mangrove monitors love being handled?

The mangrove monitors may be jumpy and timid while new to their surroundings. Help your pet adjust to this new setting and make it understand that you are not a threat with proper handling.

Do mangrove monitors bite?

The mangrove monitors rarely bite once it gets used to you. If your pet is new, it may bite you unexpectedly when it feels threatened. 

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