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When To Start Interaction With Stressed Savannah Monitor

Discussion in 'Monitors' started by LindsayMak, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. LindsayMak

    LindsayMak Member

    Good Evening, all.

    I recently adopted a young Savannah Monitor from my boyfriend and while I've been doing a ton of research, I'm finding divergent information on some topics that are of particular concern to me. Before going into my question, I'll preface by saying that the he (I don't really know the sex yet but it's the pronoun that comes to mind) is approximately 8 inches long, I don't know how old. He's temporarily being housed in a 40 gallon terrerium on a basic soil mixed with some coco bark I had. Temps are about 120 in the basking area and go down to about 85 on the cooler end. I'm struggling with humidity currently because the top of the enclosure is screening but I've been misting regularly and trying to let the top covered as best I can around the lighting. This weekend I'll hopefully have assistance in constructing a solid top with allowance for his lamps. He doesn't burrow but will occasionally soak in his water container and I know he does go exploring around his enclosure. He doesn't tend to stick to any one area and when I spy on him from the top of the steps I'll frequently see him engaging in various activities. When I'm down here, though, he tends to retreat and give me the evil eye.

    My first question is this- I'm concerned about his lack of eating. At my boyfriends house where he lived for a little shy of a month I know he voraciously ate crickets, chasing them around the cage and devouring them. He will not touch them here. I know he's eaten some dubia roaches (he even ate done from my tongs), but that seems to be all he wants. No crickets, no worms, no turkey meat, egg, etc. He doesn't look to be losing any weight and I know this has been a very stressful week or so for him between the move to my house and an escape situation last Wednesday. The top of his terrerium wasn't secured correctly (we found it was missing a part) and half of it tipped down sometime overnight, providing an escape ramp. Thankfully I found him about 20 hours after the last time I know for sure the top was secured but he spent all that time in bad circumstances. Anyhow, I think it's likely he's not eating so much because he's still acclimating and is stressed out. For right now I'm just talking to him and occasionally adjusting things in his enclosure so he's used to my hands going in there but not touching him. I'm having a hard time coming up with a game plan, though, of balancing giving him his time, making sure he's eating (I can't currently tell if all his roaches are getting eaten or if they're just running away and hiding), and starting to get him more comfortable with me. Part of me feels like I'm the sooner I start working with him the sooner he'll be used to me and will feel more comfortable eating in front of me. The other part of me is more concerned about not stressing him more at all. Thoughts?

    Secondarily I have a question about his light cycle. Currently he's on a 12 on/12 off cycle but I still use the room he's in long after his lights are off. Should I cover his cage or something to give him more quiet/dark time or just leave it be?

    Apologies for being so long winded! I have great concern about giving this guy his best life and appreciate any input from those with experience.
  2. LindsayMak

    LindsayMak Member

    For a little more information as I've seen these questions asked on several other posts here, I've been checking temperatures with one of those digital probe things. I have an IR temp gun on order and will have that by the end of the week. This week he's also getting new ceramics for a better basking spot. Currently there are just some wood bits in there he likes to climb on/hide under and a little hide tunnel. He used to frequent it but now he mainly just hangs out by his logs. I'm going to temporarily cover the top of his cage with foil as well until something more functional is installed.
  3. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    First thing I would suggest is reading the caresheet here, there is a lot of good info in it about caging. As for the taming, food is your best tool, I suggest searching YouTube for a series of videos titled small lizard trust building. Pretty much works with any lizard, especially when young.
  4. LindsayMak

    LindsayMak Member

    Thanks! His new cage is hopefully going to start being built as early as tomorrow but I'm sure it's not going be finished until the start of October. As for the trust building through food, I've watched a tremendous number of videos and understand the concept, I'm just not sure how to employ it with Spike as he's totally in the "screw you and all you have to offer" phase.
  5. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, you must allow as much time as the monitor needs to acclimate to the enclosure before even trying to "gain trust", just leave food and fresh water each day.
    Can you show a few photos of the current setup and tell me what you intend feeding?
    TamJam likes this.
  6. TamJam

    TamJam Elite Member

    I agree with Murrindindi - time and the right conditions are key, just leave him to settle down and feel less threatened.
  7. LindsayMak

    LindsayMak Member

    I'm embarrassed by his current set up but it's the best I could throw together on the very short notice I had when getting him. Initially I had agreed to have him move in with me when he got larger because my boyfriends apartment isn't suitable for a monitors requirements. It became quickly obvious that my boyfriend didn't have the time or lifestyle to invest the time in building a strong relationship with Spike, who's understandably rather unruly at present, so I took him early.
    I'll be covering the top with foil at minimum tomorrow and possibly something more substantial. Currently I have 2 50 watt halogen lights and one 150 watt incandescent lamp to maintain a basking spot temp upwards of 130F. The "cool" side is about 80F. Also a HO UVB strip lamp that I can't recall the specifics of. My temp gun is due by the end of the week and I placed an order for a hygrometer early this morning.

    As for his diet, I've given him crickets which he *finally* ate one today, dubia roaches, superworms, nightcrawlers, and a failed attempt with "Monitor Mush". He just ate a big night crawler from the tongs just now so it seems those and the roaches are his foods of choice.

    Attached Files:

  8. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I haven`t found any framework pics yet but I will keep searching, I know there are some around...
    You can cover the top as much as possible by using thin plywood or even cardboard so long as the latter doesn`t get too close to the heat bulbs (you need to do that immediately and it doesn`t matter how "untidy" it looks). When you`ve done that I would advise removing the 150w incandescent bulb because it will undoubtably dry out the air once the top`s covered as well as raise the temps, possibly overheating the whole enclosure.
  9. LindsayMak

    LindsayMak Member

    I took some panels from my ceiling and covered the cage as well as removed the 150w lamp. Unfortunately I also knocked over and broke one of my halogen domes but I had a backup. The temperature at the basking spot with just the 2 50w halogen bulbs is hovering around 120. Tomorrow I'm putting in ceramic tile in the basking area which I anticipate will boost the heat a bit.
    murrindindi likes this.
  10. LindsayMak

    LindsayMak Member

    Alright, alright, alright...I feel like I'm quickly going to become the bane of you knowledgeable folks existence.
    The other day I put in a bit of ceramic tile in Spike's basking area as I mentioned I was going to previously. He seemed to like it quite a bit. Yesterday I went to feed him and he was nowhere to be found. I saw a digging spot leading under the back corner of the tile and figured he was under there. Previously he hadn't been burrowing at all, just occasionally going into his log hide. Anyway, I started getting all nervous just in case something wasn't right so I lifted up the tile, saw him down under there, watched him flick his little tongue so I knew he was alive, then left him alone. Today he's still under there.
    Do I need to be concerned at all? How do I determine the line between when I need to check on him and when I should be continuing to leaves him alone? I have a cane toad that's always burrowing and hiding but I can tell he's been out at night because he empties his food bowl and is like a little tanker-toad going through there with the mess he makes. With Spike still being a weird eater (I often can't tell if his food is hiding or eaten), I can't use that as my go-by.
    Sorry for being so neurotic about this but I'm so concerned about making sure I'm doing what's best.
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I think it`s perfectly normal behaviour considering the monitor is not yet acclimated to the enclosure (let alone you) so with that in mind I wouldn`t worry too much and don`t disturb it again (neither should you try tong feeding yet). So long as the monitor is hydrated food is of little importance just now.
    Darkbird and LindsayMak like this.
  12. LindsayMak

    LindsayMak Member

    Thank you! My peace of mind is restored and I'll leave him be.
    Darkbird and murrindindi like this.
  13. LindsayMak

    LindsayMak Member

    I wanted to hop on here and offer profuse thanks for all the pointers/reassurance. I woke up from a nap today to find Spike out of his burrow spying on me and while he didn't look particularly thrilled with my existence, he didn't immediately bolt. He also bolted out of his burrow for dinner and ate with such voracity that I came back down with some roaches for him. He was back under his basking tile/burrow by then but he was popping his head out to grab bugs like a reptilian version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos. I'm thrilled to see him out and about, doing less pissy Monitor things.
    Brian brandon likes this.

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