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Whats Wrong with My Nile Monitor?

Discussion in 'Monitors' started by lawrenceandlenny7, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. lawrenceandlenny7

    lawrenceandlenny7 Active Member

    my nile monitor is acting strange. I've had him for a year now and he wont eat and is acting unusually timid. He is 18 inches long, 1 year old and is in a 125 gallon enclose. His substrate is coconut bark. I feed him mostly ground beef, shrimp, and large mealworms and that's what I have always fed him. I handle him daily. but in the past week he is been acting timid and hasn't eaten in the past two days. Please someone respond quickly.
  2. crocdoc

    crocdoc Elite Member

    Post a photograph of your set-up. Even though you've always kept it the same way and always fed it the same things, to me it sounds like it is finally succumbing to the cumulative affects of your husbandry. It's best to start fixing that now.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  3. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    Hey David, nice to see you around again. Hope all is well in your travels lately.

    As Crocdoc stated above Lawrence, it sounds like you may be finally seeing the results of inadequate husbandry. Lucky for us, (maybe unlucky for them) monitors are very hardy animals that can live for quite a long time in poor conditions. So while you havent changed anything lately, that doesnt mean it wasnt wrong from the start. I say this not to berate you, but rather to help you understand that there is a real need for change. With only 18 inches of growth after a year, it sounds like your monitor has not been metabolizing properly. I would guess there is probably an issue with proper temperatures with your basking spot, as well as likely dehydration, but we will need to know more about your habitat to know that. What is the temperature of your basking spot and how are you creating that (type of bulb, wattage, number of bulbs, etc)? How do you measure the basking spot temperature? What is the temperature of the cool side of the enclosure? What is the humidity within the enclosure? What do you provide for water? Its often easier to post a picture too
  4. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    From your brief description, sounds like a lot is wrong. The diet is definitely not good, you can get rid of the ground beef completely. Monitors should only be fed whole prey diets, in other words the entire animal, head guts bones and all. The large meal worms are OK, the shrimp are good if they are whole and uncooked (head and legs still on), crickets, dubia roaches, superworms, small rodents, as in pinkie mice fed sparingly. That is a short list, there are other things that can be fed for variety.

    Your setup likely will need changes too, but jarich already addressed the questions that need answered on that. There is a crap ton of bad info out there about how monitors should be kept, so be prepared to chuck a lot of what you know out the window. And please understand we aren't bashing on you , we see this kind of thing a lot. I can't really believe any of my monitors would be alive if I had tried keeping them the way I used to before coming here and doing the research.
  5. lawrenceandlenny7

    lawrenceandlenny7 Active Member

    sorry I'm not understanding what you mean by cumulative affects (to crocdoc)
  6. lawrenceandlenny7

    lawrenceandlenny7 Active Member

    (to jarich) thank you but his basking spot is very warm at least 85 degrees but im not sure and he has a large water dish. the problem is he doesn't out much to get it he just burrows a lot. he also only has one bulb.
  7. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    By cumulative effects, crocdoc means that the errors in your husbandry are not the kind that will instantly kill your monitor, but that sustained exposure to it is most like leading to its illness and will eventually lead to its death if nothing is changed. For instance, if you only ate potato chips today, nothing else, it wouldnt kill you, you would be fine. If you ate only potato chips for an entire week it would be pretty bad for you, but you wwould live. You probably would feel sluggish etc. If you were to eat only potato chips for an entire year you would have some serious problems and eventually it would be the death of you. This is a cumulative effect.
  8. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    His basking spot should be around 135* F. Many keepers keep it even hotter.
  9. gothicangel69

    gothicangel69 Elite Member

    I agree that it sounds as if improper husbandry is finally starting to take it's tole. As already stated, these guys can survive quite a while under improper conditions before finally starting to show signs.
    A basking surface of between 130-150 is usually recommended (measured with a temp gun). You can achieve this quite easily with a few 50 watt halogen flood lights- just raise or lower them until you get the desired temperature.
    Also, when we are talking about humidity, we mean the ambient humidity inside the enclosure. These guys need a relatively high humidity to keep from becomming dehydrated. The best way to achieve this is to have a completely sealed enclosure (no screens or vents) and a deep substrate.

    To temporarily fix the tank, you can cover the screen or top with plywood and mount the lights inside. Get a few halogen floods to fix the basking surface temp as well :). A proper enclosure should be built soon though- I am unsure of the dimensions for a nile though.

    There is alot of poor information out there, but the people here are great and very knowledgable. Good luck!
  10. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    Hello again Lawrence,

    Yes, what was explained above is what we meant by the effects of your enclosure catching up with the lizard. You'll need to go out and buy a couple pieces of equipment if you are serious about fixing the problem. It sounds like you may not have either a good digital thermometer or a hygrometer. Both are easy to find and quite cheap, and often you can get one digital unit that reads both. Here is the one I use and recommend most often. It is cordless and has proven quite accurate over time for me. There are cheaper ones if you are in a pinch though. Ambient Weather WS-0101 Wireless Thermo-Hygrometer with Indoor Temperature and Outdoor Temperature and Humidity: Home & Kitchen
    You need to be able to tell what the temperature of your basking spot and cool end are, and to know about what your humidity is in the enclosure.

    The lack of proper heat is keeping your monitor's metabolism from functioning properly. It cannot digest and absorb its food properly and has not been able to either grow normally or gain the nutrition from what you are feeding it as a result. Your monitor should be almost twice the size it is by now, just to give you an idea of what we mean. As mentioned, they require a very high temperature basking area. This will allow both their metabolism and immune system to function properly.

    It also sounds like you dont have a high enough humidity and that the animal is suffering from low level dehydration. This is especially hard on the liver and kidneys, exacerbated by the lack of a proper basking spot. I know this is tough to hear, and will probably be something you want to argue with. Please understand that it is honestly not meant to be something argumentative or to call you out. We really just want to help you fix your enclosure so that your monitor can get back to being the healthy vibrant active lizard it should be.

    The first and easiest fix is the basking spot. This will likely give you almost immediate results if your lizard has any life left in him. Upon increasing the basking temperature you will see it start to become more active again and behave more like a normal monitor. You will need to get at least one other ceramic socket fixture, but two more would be best. As mentioned, you want to provide a large enough basking site so that the animals body from nose to base of tail is able to reach those temperatures. We usually try to use low wattage bulbs, fairly close to the ground, so that it doesnt dry the air out any further than necessary. With a 50-75 watt bulb you can usually keep them about 18" off the ground and still achieve the proper temps of 135-155 or so. Just hang the bare bulbs from the top of the enclosure without any hood or cage around them. I know this seems risky at first thought, and youre probably worried about them grabbing it and getting burned. However, if you hang the bare bulbs by the cord there is nothing for the monitor to hang onto. If he reaches up to hit the bulb it will swing away and the slick glass of the bulb allows no purchase for him to hang on. We all do this, and none of us has ever had a burn as a result. Providing a hood or cage simply gives it something to hang onto and therefore burn.

    The next fix is more costly and will take quite a bit more time. You will need to build a larger enclosure that is sealed and holds a lot of substrate. For a nile, you are looking at an enclosure 10-12 feet long by 5-6 feet wide by 4 feet tall. Understand that these are suggested minimums. If you are able to make it bigger then please by all means do so. These animals have large ranges and are very active, so providing as much room as possible is always best. However, creating an enclosure where you are able to provide the proper parameters is more important than just making it big. You need to have a sealed enclosure to allow you to increase the humidity up to the needs of the monitor, which is around 65-75% consistently. These are tropical lizards and need tropical conditions to survive.

    You mentioned that your monitor is burrowing. That gives you an indication of what you need to do with the substrate. A good deep substrate of a mixture of sand and soil is best. Most of us mix it about 70:30 soil to sand, though you can play around to see what works best for your monitor. Basically mix it and make a ball with it. If the ball holds together readily, like a snowball, then that should also support a burrow for your monitor. That substrate will need to be about 2 feet deep and packed down firmly. Remember when you place your enclosure that the floor there needs to be able to hold literally a ton or more of soil. Make sure the floor can support that kind of weight.

    Now this is just a very quick introduction to what you need to do. These are difficult animals to get set up properly, but once they are set up, the results are the most active, intelligent reptiles you can own, in my opinion. They are worth every ounce of time and money you put into them, so I do hope you are committed to doing so. If you cannot or chose not to, please start looking for an owner who can, because your monitor is telling you that in the present conditions it does not have long to live. Again, please understand we do not say this to be jerks or to call you out, merely to let you know that your monitor is dying and needs immediate changes to allow it to hopefully get back to being healthy.
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, just to say you`ve been getting some great advise from the other members and I concur with what`s been said so far.
    To make it a little easier, you basically need to know two temps; the ambient (air) in the coolest parts @ approx. 24c (75f), then the SURFACE temp at the basking site @ between approx. 50 to 60c (120 to 140f).
    The humidity should range between approx. 50 to 80%, the lower figure will be around the basking area, it may even be higher than 80% in the hides/burrows.
    Whole prey only as has been suggested, a diet based around fish and rodents is fine for this species, variety is not the key, nutritional value is. Pinky mice are less nutritious because the skeleton hasn`t yet formed and they don`t contain much protein, fuzzies/larger are much better, if too big to swallow whole, slice in half along the length while still frozen (then obviously fully defrost before feeding). I totally disagree that rodents should only be fed sparingly?
    The water needs to be heated up into the 80`s F, they are obviously semi aquatic and may spend some time in the water, therefore having it at "room temp" may be too low.
    Can you put a few photos up of the whole enclosure and monitor? Thanks!
  12. lawrenceandlenny7

    lawrenceandlenny7 Active Member

    thank you very much for your help jarich
  13. lawrenceandlenny7

    lawrenceandlenny7 Active Member

    I just want everyone to know I did what you guys said and the monitor is eating and is more active thank you all so much
  14. zippy2013

    zippy2013 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Are you still able to put up some photos ? we'd love to see what you guy looks like and how you fixed everything :)
    Another way that I use for my humidity since its never staying the same I use a humidifier and works awesome! keeps the cage nice and wet for my little guy just a thought
  15. lawrenceandlenny7

    lawrenceandlenny7 Active Member

    yeah I will snap a pic as soon as possible and also I was thinking about getting a humidifier. where would I get one?
  16. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    walmart is where I got my humidifier. Look in the pharmacy section.
  17. lawrenceandlenny7

    lawrenceandlenny7 Active Member

    thanks I will look at walmart
  18. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, if you heat the water in a relatively large container and have a reasonable depth of substrate you shouldn`t need a humidifier (you need to do those two things anyway).
  19. lawrenceandlenny7

    lawrenceandlenny7 Active Member

    how would I heat the water?
  20. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    A small aquarium heater, they are extremely economical to run 24/7, the wattage obviously depends on the size of the container. 50w should easily heat 10 gallons, perhaps even more (it would say on the packaging).

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