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Old 01-26-2007, 04:09 PM   #1
sisuitl
A bunch of questions....

I have some questions that I haven't found the answers to in books and caresheets.

Can monitors be potty trained?

What species of monitors would be best suited to a free roaming type of living arrangement?

What species of monitors tend to be "friendlier", or more human oriented/tolerant?

My 17 year old iguana passed away last February, and I really miss having a giant lizard friend around. He was very social and crawled into people's laps soliciting head rubs and such. Rather than rush out and adopt another iguana, I wanted to investigate the other giant guys out there and see if there are any monitors/tegus that might be a good match. One thing I really liked about the iguana was the fact that he never needed a cage. He just had a few basking spots and the rest of the house was fair game. I guess I feel like I don't want to have a huge lizard that has to be locked in a box most of the time.

Our home is in Tucson AZ, so we are hoping to build a nice outdoor recreation area for whatever companion we bring home.

Sizewise, I am also looking at something medium. A water or nile monitor would probably be too large. 30 lbs max or about the size of a large male iguana. Some people have suggested black throats, peach throats, or argus (I love argus monitors! they are so beautiful!) I am having problems finding husbandry info on these species though.

Anyway, please if anybody has some suggestions of where to look for info, suggestions from their own experience, etc. I would really appreciate it. Thanks for your time.
 
Old 01-26-2007, 04:33 PM   #2
p2daj21
I have a mangrove monitor and i love him. He is still a juvie though, around 2 and a half feet. I would strongly recommend a savannah monitor as they seem to be the most tame but they are a bit smaller than a green iguana(around 3 feet). Keep in mind that a monitor will never behave like an iguana and it probably wouldnt be a good idea to let it free roam your house.
 
Old 01-26-2007, 05:19 PM   #3
sisuitl
Just out of curiosity, why would it be a bad idea to let a monitor free roam? I know with iguanas it is recommended, for both mental health and physical health since an adequate cage needs to be room sized anyway. What is different about a monitor's needs that makes free roaming a bad idea? Are they destructive?

How exactly are monitor temperments different from iguanas? People tell me all the time that they are not the same, but how are they different? I am hoping for some specific examples so I can know what kinds of things to expect from a monitor. It makes sense for them to be different since we are talking about a solitary carnivore vs. a social herbivore, but very few iguanas I have met were as nice and human oriented as mine, so I am not sure what aspects of their behavior people are comparing.

Mainly my iguana spent most of the day basking in the window/heat lamps with our cat (who has passed away also), then in the evenings he would do his big loop around the living room, spending 20 minutes in each person's lap so he could get his massages in. After that he would hang out on the back of the recliner and watch cartoons late into the night. Food was eaten throughout the day. Several times a week he enjoyed going for drives with us and frightening old ladies at stoplights. We also took him on walks, but he always just rode on our heads/shoulders since he was too lazy to actually walk himself. Maybe someone could contrast how a well socialized monitor might behave in those situations, I might understand a little better what kind of lifestyle would be appropriate for a monitor.

Thanks for your time, and pa2daj21I appreciate your response to my questions.
 
Old 01-26-2007, 08:16 PM   #4
reptiler ron
Lorraine,first of all your iggy was probale a female.But now you are moving up to a new and different type of lizard.Montors are meat eaters and with all reptiles are different from one to the next.Don't expect the same type of behaver from one to the next.Good luck in your choice of animal. Ron
 
Old 01-27-2007, 02:58 AM   #5
Seamus Haley
"Tame" is a term that's not appropriate for discussing reptile behavior. Docile... or calm... or disinclined to bite, crap and run... Not tame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sisuitl
Just out of curiosity, why would it be a bad idea to let a monitor free roam? I know with iguanas it is recommended
Not by everyone, free roaming is... debateable... at absolute best for any species and certainly not reccomended by many, if any, sources that are actually credible and educated. The supposed up side of allowing for a more natural behavior over a larger volume of space is counteracted completely by the difficulty in maintaining proper environmental conditions over a large area, the likelihood of coming into contact with potential contaminants, the animal feces present in human living quarters and the idea of proofing a large area, really proofing it to make it safe... and preventing things from becoming damaged by the animal.

Quote:
What is different about a monitor's needs that makes free roaming a bad idea? Are they destructive?
Monitors are a pretty good sized group of animals, with species ranging from midgets to monsters and covering most the warmer environments between the tropics. There's a world of difference between the needs of individual species so the question's a bit broad to tackle... short answers though; maintaining appropriate temperatures and humidity over an area that could be defined as uncontained is difficult at best, being predatory rather than folivores they're more active in some ways and, tovarying degrees depending on the specific species in question, they'll tear things up going after food, knock things over, push things around, deficate pretty much everywhere and be inclined to wedge themselves into places that an arboreal herbivore would not.

Quote:
How exactly are monitor temperments different from iguanas? People tell me all the time that they are not the same, but how are they different?
Agression shown by monitors will be either predatory or defensive (which includes some intraspecies territorial agression for some species, some genders and some individual animals). Iguana agression will be territorial or defensive- a truly healthy iguana in an environment with no other iguanas will display agressively dominant behaviors... free roaming, in less than ideal conditions many natural behaviors are going to be retarded and altered. Again here though, there's a large number of monitor species and the behavior and the reasons for it can vary widely- the question is a bit too broad to answer as asked, species specific interest will probably net better information.

I don't reccomend free roaming for any herp if the intention is to keep the animal in truly ideal health. Ever. I do reccomend large controlled enclosures though- converting a spare bedroom into a walk-in enclosure is expensive, but a worthwhile way to maintain ideal, controlled conditions while still providing ample room for natural behavior patterns and physical extertion. I'd also never endorse or condone dragging a large lizard around in public on a leash, it's not good for the animal and rarely does shoving people into unintentional interaction lead to the creation of a positive image for herpers or herps. Frankly, the people who get a kick out of seeing someone scared of their pet... or who use reptiles as fashion accessories are braying jackasses that don't deserve to own animals. Or breathe. So here's hoping those statements you made that indicated those behaviors on your part were merely poorly thought out and not directly representative of your behavior or attitude.

If you want a large lizard that tends to be interactive and docile... I'd avoid iguanas. Some monitor species would fit with what you describe as wanting, many would not... I'd probably stick argentine black and white tegus at the top of the list though. Big, generally pretty laid back, intelligent (by reptile standards), active and diurnal- care isn't too tough if you're willing to invest the space and expense in setting them up.
 
Old 01-27-2007, 03:22 AM   #6
Mooing Tricycle
Why not check out a Tegu? The Black and White Argentines seem to have a pretty good reputation going for them, and Bobby ( Varnyard ) can tell you ALOT about them and really help you in picking an animal out that will be suited for the style of life you would like your animal to have. I hear they can be DOG tame, and pretty darn affectionate ( for a lizard... theyre not like cats and dogs still)
 
Old 01-27-2007, 01:43 PM   #7
sisuitl
Thank you so much Seamus for explaining to me all the the reasons behind your answers. They make a lot of sense. I think my iguana must have been a one of a kind fluke or something. He was definitely a boy, two years before he passed away (from renal failure, the previous owners fed him dog food) he developed an abscess in one of his hemipenes and it had to be removed.

It was actually reccommended to me by three separate herp vets that I let him free roam. He had a walk in cage that was 10x10x6 feet at first, but refused to eat, ever no matter the temps, lighting, humidity. All three of the vets said it seemed almost like he had chronic depression, and said to let him free roam if possible. So we changed the setup of our house to accomodate him and he began eating again. In the winter he would also stop eating, and I noticed that after taking him to the vet he would eat for a few days and then stop. Then I just started taking him for a ten minute drive two or three times a week, and he would start eating either in the car or once we got home. Taking him for walks was also reccommend by the vet because when we got him he had severe MBD and a broken leg. He seemed to respond well to excursions outside and our vet felt it was important for him to be getting at least three hours of real sunshine weekly, vs. UV lightbulb rays (back in the day when they had to lay 12 inches from the bulb to get any UV light.

Sorry for the comment about scaring people at stoplights. Mostly I think they were startled when he stuck his tongue out. He actually had visited many schools and helped with educational talks about iguanas, and why they don't make good pets. (seagull poop the size of a dinner plate daily always convinced children it was a bad idea)

Anyway, thank you for your input. I am starting to think a monitor probably wouldn't be a good fit, and that my iguana was probably a special case. We will probably just comb the rescues until we can find another iguana that would be a good match for us. If anybody else wants to chip in please do! I don't know much about monitors and at least would like to learn more about them.
 
Old 01-27-2007, 02:20 PM   #8
Seamus Haley
Quote:
Originally Posted by sisuitl
Thank you so much Seamus for explaining to me all the the reasons behind your answers. They make a lot of sense. I think my iguana must have been a one of a kind fluke or something. He was definitely a boy, two years before he passed away (from renal failure, the previous owners fed him dog food) he developed an abscess in one of his hemipenes and it had to be removed.

...

Anyway, thank you for your input. I am starting to think a monitor probably wouldn't be a good fit, and that my iguana was probably a special case. We will probably just comb the rescues until we can find another iguana that would be a good match for us. If anybody else wants to chip in please do! I don't know much about monitors and at least would like to learn more about them.
It was a three AM post that probably could have been worded a bit better and dealt with generalizations rather than specifics but... if you took something from it, good enough.

Your iguana was not one of a kind exactly, but definitely few of a kind. Reptiles are all instinct and procedural memory, that doesn't automatically mean that their behaviors or the reasons behind them are simple. Lots of factors come into play when determining why a reptile will behave a certain way; including whole sets of stimulus based on conditions that people barely have the sensory perception to register a lot of the time. The natural behavior of a truly healthy green iguana is generally pretty nasty when judged by the chriteria that would make an ideal pet, they're big, dominant and territorial. That behavior can change dramatically though if they're too cold, too dry, getting a diet that's not 100% perfect or have lingering aftereffects and long term health issues from past negative conditions or injury. Any adult green iguana of either gender that's got qualities that would be seen as making it an interactive social kind of pet has something going on with it that's not ideal for the animal itself. Whole point being, finding one that may be displaying the behavior that you seem to want is going to be coupled with some other issue- what and how severe and what it means for the animal's long term health is a bit of a crapshoot.

Most the bigger monitor species will tend to show some defensive behaviors in response to handling attempts that make 'em something other than what you describe wanting. Again, there are lots of examples of individual animals that vary from the expected behavior of the species but these are exceptions and can't usually be counted on. For... easy to come by in the pet trade species... Niles and croc monitors aren't something that you'd be looking for. Water monitors can go either way but I'd tend to put them in a category to avoid unless you're getting an established full grown adult with a known temperment since juveniles are an unknown quality. Getting a bit smaller, Merten's Water Monitors are a little tougher to find for sale but tend to be a bit more laid back, white throat, black throat and savannahs are *usually* pretty easy to approach and handle. Black roughnecks are probably the most docile monitor I have ever personally encountered when looked at as a species. Argus monitors tend to be pretty defensive and wound up when they're younger mellowing out with age (this is true, to varying degrees, for many species, where the juveniles are far more prone to predation and will display completely different behaviors and responses than the adults. Of course, depending on what kind of predators they have evolved to deal with, some adults get a bit more agressive, as "fight" is a better survival trait than "flight" at full growth- so again, species by species basis but...). Mangroves are a species that I'd tend to call a bit flightier and more nervous but some of the adults end up being pretty docile and lose that edginess. Going even smaller, tree monitors are completely the opposite of what you describe wanting and the ozzy dwarf species (most commonly ackies, although there are a few kimberly rocks floating around), while tempermentally suited to your description tend to stay under two and a half feet total length (often smaller) so... kinda... bottomed out there.

The tegus are definitely worth looking into, they're opportunistic omnivores rather than straight predators and in some ways have behaviors that are much more complex and adaptive than most monitors. The argentine B&Ws are probably the noteable "best" when it comes to a bigger species that passes through docile into actively interactive, although I'd still reccomend a very large enclosure over free roaming.
 
Old 01-27-2007, 04:18 PM   #9
Digby Rigby
Thumbs up If you want a dog get a tegu

The red tegus as well as the Argentine black and white tegus are generally large lizards that can get very accustommed to human presence as opposed to the Columbian tegus. You do not keep monitors they keep you. Monitors require more time and resources for them to thrive in captivity as opposed to the tegus. The red tegu and the black and white tegu are not tropical animals and dont require the humidity that monitors do. Start with a baby. Also tegus from Argentina are used to a wide variety of temperature fluctuations. Tegus under 2 feet long are much faster and climb very well so when small not a good idea to let them free roam older ones tend to stay on the ground more and if a suitable thought out area is planned they can be allowed to free roam it. In fact one of ours would even be allowed out of the house to go and sun itself then come back in. Experiences mentioned are based on our red tegu for over ten years!

Digby Rigby balboa28279@mypacks.net
 
Old 01-27-2007, 05:43 PM   #10
sisuitl
That's really interesting. Most tegu's I have met were pretty huffy and seemed to prefer being left alone. We just purchased a house in Arizona that has a screened in south facing back porch. The floor dimensions are 8'x20', and it has a sloped ceiling 8-10 feet tall. We are debating whether we should glass it in with removable glass and put new screen underneath. That would create a greenhouse area in the winter, and a mosquito proofed lounging area in the summer. My concern with keeping an iguana out there is that the floor is cement, and I don't want one to drop off his perch and break a leg (like they tend to do) so something less arboreal might work well in a place like that.

Do all tegu's hibernate? If that is the case it might not be necessary to glass in the porch area, since it would be sleeping during our cold months (it gets 115 F here in the summer, 60-70 F Nov through Feb. with the nights dropping to 30 F.)

One of the things that attracts me to monitors and tegus is that they are not strict herbivores, which makes having houseplants and achieving a balanced diet a lot simpler.
 

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