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Sexual Maturity in Savannah Monitors in Ghana.

Discussion in 'Monitors' started by murrindindi, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi,
    re the discussion on size/sexual maturity in Varanus exanthematicus (in Ghana); I contacted Dr. Daniel Bennett, asking for confirmation on the ToL (total length). Daniel confirms that the size is as he suggested in his Savannah monitor book; 27cm (10.5inches), for females.
    He didn`t confirm the mass, which in his book`s given at between 350 and 500g. I`ve sent another message, hopefully he`ll reply in due course (that figure seems very high in comparison to length)?
    He also said that he often found scratch marks outside their burrow entrances, that may indicate they stiill come out to bask at times during periods when "normal" activity drops during the dry season, as to whether any other activities take place, Daniel said he didn`t have the patience to sit and wait to see! Would they take food if it were available during this time??
    More questions than answers!
    To Aja: Your monitor (if indeed is a female), is clearly large enough to be capable of producing eggs, if there`s no physical problems, apart from the current unshed skin (we all hope not)!
     
  2. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I found it interesting in the book where he states that out of 113 burrows (don't quote me on the number, but it's around there)
    the average depth was 30 cm. So I would suppose that the temperature might be high enough that they wouldn't have to come out and bask all that often.
     
  3. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi Mike,
    it`s not so much that they need to bask, but if they haven`t "shut down" as Daniel states they may not do, do they take food?
    He says that 27cm SV is very big for a wild Savannah monitor. I thought it was an error in the book when it stated 27cm ToL.
    Perhaps in the areas he studied them they have a smaller average size?
    I think this demonstrates that these studies are not the complete picture!
    At that small size, the mainly invert diet might be explained; they DO take vertebrates on a fairly regular basis (amphibians), and very rarely, rodents.... Even a pinky would be too much for the hatchlings and perhaps juveniles. Is that why there`s not much evidence of mammal prey (at least in this particular population)?
     
  4. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Yes that's a good point. But his research also states that it's more the juveniles that can fit into the cricket burrows that actually eat them. The adults are too large to fit in and this eat more scorpions and millipedes.
     
  5. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    O.k, then the hatchlings/juveniles in this population are obligate invert ("insect") feeders, but adults are not, and do have a wider range of prey choices, which they exploit.
    I think Frank R. did some work with Daniel, pretty sure this species was involved in some way? I`ll have to ask him (after xmas).
    Mike, does a total length of 27cm and a mass of 350 to 500g sound right to you (I know they`re a stocky animal)?
     
  6. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I don't know really. But when I think of wild monitors, stocky usually is not a characteristic.
    I mean they tend to be on the lean side. Unless they are found at peak feeding seasons maybe.
     
  7. AjaMichelle

    AjaMichelle Elite Member

    This is very interesting!

    So my Savannah monitor is long enough, but probably won't produce any eggs until she gains more weight. :)
     
  8. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member


    Aja, I still cannot quite accept the weight to length ratio that Daniel quotes in his book, I`m not sure if he`ll reply again before xmas. Your monitor is longer than 27cm ToL, do you think she`s around 350 to 500g?
    My Water monitor weighed around 460g at 75cm, and you`ve seen his condition. Obviously, we cannot compare directly, but it still seems way too heavy for the Sav of 27cm!?
    The mystery continues....... :confused: ;)
     
  9. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member


    Why not?
     
  10. AjaMichelle

    AjaMichelle Elite Member

    Well she's only around 80 grams and she's been through a lot, so I would think that gaining weight and length and getting the stuck shed off would be her first priorities. :)
     
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member


    I know you`ve mentioned her SV length, save me searching, what is it?
     
  12. AjaMichelle

    AjaMichelle Elite Member

    It's 7 inches (~18 cm)
     
  13. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Then she`s sexually mature (ToL around 32cm?), according to Daniel`s research in Ghana....
    And I was mistaken when I suggested the juveniles would possibly be too small to take vertebrates, they take frogs, and possibly other types, too (Daniel Bennett)...
     
  14. geck312

    geck312 Well-Known Member

    Interesting! Remember when I spoke of lump sum? Well my thought was that you were comparing your water monitor which is a naturally larger lizard to a savannh monitor lizard.
    I am just stating what was told to me years ago by a reptile vet and what I have observed regarding size. The vet mentioned that the reason most savs in captivity are so large is due to being fed high protein mice, however this puts a toll on their kidneys and liver which shortens their lifespan.
    She stated this species is not suppose to be as large as most are in captivity. This is one of the reasons people feel the need to feed mice because they cannot afford the expense of feeding various smaller food items. Think of lean muscle verses fat. Most people fail to realize 8X4 is absolute MINIMUN.
    As you know in the wild they travel distances to find meals and so in captivity they do not need half the amounts of food given. The piles of necropsies speak for itself; the amounts of fat masses found is outrageous.
    Warning graphic!

    http://**********.com/forums/Monitors/messages/2215102.html
    Savannah monitor care - Page 3 - sSNAKESs : Reptile Forum

    What exercise are they getting within 8 feet of enclosure? What appears to be a thin sav sometimes is the ideal weight. Main focus is a full tail and not a hanging belly. It is not only related to temperatures.
    Also whether you believe that they require UVB or not provide it anyway. The sun plays a big part in all living things. I know, it's not a real sun but the closest thing we can provide.
    If you must provide a mouse, the vet recommended feeding a gerbil instead which has less fat and easier to digest. She also mentioned it's best to shave the pelt of the gerbil. She have seen many fur impactions which end up deadly.
    Frozen mice: dehydrated, must be frozen for a while to kill parasites which means loss of vitamins and nutrients which defeats the purpose, defrosting in room temp allows bacterias to grow rapidly.

    Live mice: chances of parasites infecting you reptile, chances of your reptile being injured.

    Unless you are breeding your own: know they are not loaded with parasites, fed a proper diet, euthanized right before feeding, I do not see a huge advantage of feeding them to an average size savannah monitor lizard.

    Sorry for the quick and unorganized writing.
     
  15. Rockstar2011

    Rockstar2011 Active Member

    Also remember that Daniel did his studies on wild monitors, which has been stated that wild monitors are normally slender than those kept in captivity. Which after some thought maybe that is why the weight and length differs in his research than the weight and length of your captive monitors. If your trying to find out when captive monitors are sexually mature and able to produce eggs from their length and weight, why not try to contact a breeder? They may have a better idea from a captive monitor's standpoint....
     
  16. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, I`m not sure who your addressing, but I`ll answer it anyway!? It`s not the ToL figures that confuse me, it`s the mass, which is out of all proportion!
    As far as the research Daniel`s done is concerned, he checked a minute percentage of monitors in that particular location....
    No doubt captives often do seem to "outgrow" their (still) wild counterparts, and it`s (in sadly VERY few cases), that they are offered optimum conditions, that allow them to achieve their full potetial. But we do NOT change their genetic makeup (they don`t live longer, grow bigger than they`ve evolved to do)! It cannot be seen as "abnormal" when this happens, rather, if conditions in the wild were suitable, they`d do the same!!
     
  17. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I`ll answer briefly: The reason there are so many overweight, unhealthy Savannah monitors (and many other species) in captivity, is because they are not supported, NOT because they were fed mice! I agree completely that excercise has a large part to play, too (or lack of it, as you say)..
    And I`ve said a (thousand?) times; if you feed an animal more energy than it can use, it will become overweight, probably store fat around the vital organs, and die prematurely.... How difficult is that to understand???
    EDIT: Varanids have absolutely no problem digesting and passing fur, feathers, scales, bits of substrate etc when basking temps are within recommended levels (50 to 60c), 120 to 140f, (and acceptable a little higher, if the keeper wishes)...
     

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