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Last updated : 01/04/2007

This page is indexed on our home page under Aspect: 5. Info. for students & teachers and the Section: Pet of the month

Rocky - African Rock Monitor

African Rock Monitor

Owner :Reptilia Traders cc, Cape Town

We acquired Rocky, a male African Rock Monitor (Alternative name White-throated monitor) in Nov 2005.

He was not very tame when we got him, but maybe he just was not used to his new environment, new people and smells,  and he used to hiss loudly and  swipe his tail at any hand that approached him, with such force that it created a loud whip like swish.

We soon had him tamed and settled in and he is now quite happy to be picked up and taken for walks in the garden and to be moved between his indoor and outdoor facilities or just to sit on my shoulder and be tickled where he will dose off.Click to enlarge

We have fallen in love. And we have decided to do as much as we can to increase the availability of both the White-Throated Monitor, and  Savanna Monitors so we will be importing some hatchlings for resale and raise some for anyone interested in breeding them.

But, that is a long term project. So firstly we need to find a suitable mate or mates for Rocky. If anybody knows someone  who has these reptiles, please let us know so we can make enquiries. We are aware that Aqua-Aviaries  and Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary have breeding pairs. Despite making enquiries about the current stock that is being offered in the Cape Area, little if any information has been forth coming. It is therefore difficult to access if the stock are all related or not.

There seems to be limited genetic diversity available in South Africa, So we will be doing lots more research and aim bring in diverse genetic lines for this breeding project. Any help suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Rocky is currently still a baby at about 110 cms long from nose to tip of tail and weighs about 1.5 kgs, but is growing rapidly, without being overweight. He is housed in a top opening enclosure that measures 1500 x 630 x 600mm, (which is too small) with a recessed large water bowl that is securely fitted to a hole in the floor of the enclosure. On sunny days he gets to spend the day outside catching some sun rays in an outside enclosure. He seems to enjoy his time outside. The enclosure is fitted with a shady hide box, some tree branches and large water bowl and the floor is covered with some old roof tiles.  If its a very hot day he will sit in his water basin. By the time we take him in the late afternoon he is freezing. Strange, since when it starts cooling down he could lie on the roof tiles and enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

Anyway, one thing has been revealed by our research is that he needs a bigger enclosure so that is in the process to being built. We are also of the opinion  that captive monitors are being over heated and kept at too high a humidity level, with too much food, all of which results in rapid growth and early sexual maturity. It like turbo charging a reptile and can not be good for them. Mean temperatures in the areas where these monitors are found are listed below.

Natural Habitat

Climatic Data Extract from EMBL REPTILE DATABASE
Country Town
South Africa Pretoria Family: Varanidae, Platynota, Sauria (lizards)
Mozambique LICHINGA Distribution

Namibia, Botswana, Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, S Ethiopia, S Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire)

albigularis: Southern Africa, northwards to Angola, Zambia and Mozambique; Terra typica: unknown.

angolensis: Angola, Zambia, possibly neighboring areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Terra typica: Gauca, Biha, Angola.

microstictus: Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania; Terra typica: "Abessinien" (= Ethiopia)

Ethiopia AWASSA
Zambia NDOLA

Hot dry climate

In South Africa the White-throat Monitor is found in central areas (Karoo,) which is dry and hot with cool nights that can drop temperatures to below zero at night. Most areas in which these monitors are found are dry and max temps are in the range 25 to 30 c (77 - 86 f).


There seems to a lot of conflicting information on the recommended diet. We feed him every three days. All food is fed raw and is not cooked. (Salmonella seems to be a lot less prevalent in food in South African than in the USA).

The following is chopped into manageable cubes.

Chicken wings, necks, (lots of for calcium), stomach, heart, and liver (in limited amounts).

cubed boiled eggs

Ox heart

          Ground cooked Chicken  bones and raw chicken or turkey. 

Whole Day old chicks

Whole boiled eggs in shell. He will spend some time managing to crack the shell and consume the contents, making a huge mess in the process. We feel this stimulates him and gives him something do.

Whole large mice. and pinkie rabbits.

Despite research stating that Monitor's love garden snails, our boy must be spoilt, because he will crack the shell, but then just looses interest and will not eat garden snails.

Monitors can get fat. So we are watching his diet and avoiding any high fat protein and ensure his intake of natural calcium is maintained. We read somewhere that one can feed tinned cat food. As far as we are concerned this is a no no, as cat food has a very high fat content.

Fasces show that all bones hair etc. are being well processed. Stools are soft but well formed.


Unlike snakes shedding is not achieved in one session but a continuous process of small pieces of dry skin but not that much that he looks untidy.

Hide Box

We have noted that Rocky likes squeezing himself into confined spots. The hide box we have provided is made from two bricks supporting a roof tile. He basks on top of the roof tile but sleeps between one of the bricks and the side of the enclosure. Very seldom will he sleep under the roof tile, although he will spend some time there during the day.

When being held he will also lie quite still if he is held snuggly (not restrained) to ones chest. If not he will start moving around, climbing up over my shoulder.


Rocky is extremely tame. When we feed him one can place the food in his mouth with bare hands and even wipe his mouth for him. Naturally they will tend to wipe their mouths on any available object. However, they are reputed to have powerful jaws, and teeth that looks like a bony rough plate. They are capable biting onto something and supporting their own weight, so care is advised when dealing with unknown specimens.


Rocky's Picture gallery

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A family relative

Picture with kind permission of Mike. All rights reserved

Links and back ground information


Savanna White - Throated  Black - Throated 
Scientific name Varanus exanthematicus Varanus albigularis albigularis Varanus albigularis Ionidesi

V.a.Microstictus (true blackthroat),

Cites Status Schedule II Schedule II Schedule II
Further Reading  Captive Care 
Enclosure Temps Day     Night  
Hot side 32c 90 f 25 c 77 f  
Cool side 25c 77 f 20 c  68f  
Basking 40c 104f  




Egg hatching 27- 32c(81 -90f)
In our section titled "8. Links - Species Specific' we have more information on the

Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus)

White-Throat Monitor (Varanus albigularis albigularis)

and other monitor species as well as many other reptiles.


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Last update : 01/04/2007