The Health Problems of the Monitor Lizard

Komodo dragons are large monitor lizards.
Komodo dragons are large monitor lizards. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Monitor lizards are a group of lizards with long necks and tails and large claws. Savannah monitors and other similar lizards have become increasingly popular pets because of their intelligence and generally friendly disposition. Though monitors are generally hardy, particularly in adulthood, they are prone to certain health problems in captivity. If your monitor is sick, your first step should be to visit a qualified reptile vet.


Monitors need to have large bowls or tubs in which to bathe. Without frequent soaking, they may become dehydrated or fail to fully shed. If your monitor has partially shed skin stuck to its face or limbs, or if your monitor appears dry and listless, it is likely dehydrated and needs to be soaked more frequently.


One of the biggest obstacles faced by monitor owners is providing sufficiently large enclosures. Monitors need plenty of room to run around and dig, and large monitors in a small cage can quickly become depressed. If the enclosure is not at least three times the length of your lizard and your lizard is lethargic and rarely moves, it may be depressed. Get a larger enclosure immediately.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic bone disease, a form of malnourishment, is a common health issue faced by all reptiles living in captivity. Monitor lizards are especially susceptible because of their unique dietary needs. Metabolic bone disease begins with weak bones and can progress to eye and skin problems. In order to prevent this illness, make sure to dust your monitor's food with calcium and provide daily access either to sunlight or an artificial UV bulb. If your lizard is showing symptoms of metabolic bone disease, it will likely need injections of calcium to survive, so see a reptile vet immediately.

Mouth Infections

Monitor lizards, who are housed in glass aquariums or who are in a cage that is too small, may repeatedly rub their faces along the glass of their enclosure. This can lead to mouth rot, a potentially fatal condition that can interfere with your lizard's ability to eat. This condition requires urgent medical care and a change in environment, so see your vet immediately.


Juvenile monitors are susceptible to parasites due to cramped and stressful living conditions prior to being purchased. If your lizard has runny stools or you've noticed a change in stool appearance or texture, your monitor may have a parasite. See a vet as soon as possible. Parasites can interfere with nutrient absorption or cause serious illnesses.

Related Searches


  • "Savannah Monitors"; Mark K. Bayless; 2006
  • "Savannah and Grassland Monitors"; Robert G. Sprackland; 2001
  • "Monitors and Tegus"; Bartlett, Patricia P. Bartlett; 2006
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