Properly caring for a savannah monitor requires you to replicate the lizards’ natural habitat in several different ways. Most fledgling keepers understand that this will require you to monitor things like temperature and humidity levels, but many fail to realize that it is also important to replicate the type of lighting savannah monitors experience in the wild. This includes not only providing light of sufficient intensity (brightness), but you must also provide light comprised of the appropriate wavelengths. You can accomplish this by using the right type of light fixtures and light bulbs, as well as placing them in the correct locations.
In this article I will not only give you information on the right lighting for your monitor, I will also show you the exact set up you need for a natural savannah monitor habitat.
Savannah Monitor Lighting Needs
Providing the right type of bosc monitor lighting requires that you address two things: The light intensity and the light’s spectrum. Measuring the amount of light intensity you are providing your lizard is difficult for hobbyists, and for the most part, unnecessary. Instead, it is simply wise to illuminate the habitat as brightly as is possible. You can never compete with the sun by using light bulbs, so just do your best to bathe the habitat in as much light as is possible. However, you must be sure that your pet still has access to dark areas in the cage, such as burrows. Without sufficiently bright lighting, your lizard is likely to languish rather than thrive.
In addition to bright lighting, you must be sure that the light contains the correct wavelengths of light. This primarily relates to the amount of UVA and UVB produced by a given light bulb. Savannah monitor lighting requirements demand the presence of both UVA and UVB wavelengths, so be sure to select a bulb that provides such. Often, light containing both UVA and UVB (no lights available for commercial use produce UVC, as it is quite dangerous), are labelled as “full spectrum” lights.
The most common way to provide full-spectrum lighting to your savannah monitor is through the use of fluorescent bulbs and ballasts. Be sure to check the product packaging to ensure that the bulb produces both UVA and UVB. Note that fluorescent bulbs do not produce much heat – you will need a separate set of heat lamps or radiant heat panels to provide your pet with the proper thermal environment.
BTW: The temperature under the basking spot should be between 105 and 110 degrees. The rest of the cage should be around 90 degrees or slightly higher. Do not worry about the temperature at night. It is known that it has no effect on savannah monitors when it is a little bit colder at night.
There is one type of bulb – a mercury vapor bulb – that can produce both heat and ultraviolet light, but these are often tricky to use safely, given their tendency to produce an incredible amount of heat. Accordingly, they are inappropriate for beginners. There are some self-ballasted (compact) fluorescent bulbs on the market that are capable of producing UV light, but the bulk of the products available are manufactured as linear fluorescent bulbs that require a dedicated ballast.
In addition to the bulbs and ballasts, you may want to invest in a lamp timer to automate the on-off process. Additionally, by doing so, you’ll keep your pet’s day-night cycle consistent. Be sure to provide your lizard with a balanced photoperiod, consisting of 12 hours of daylight (when the lights are on) and 12 hours of nighttime (when the lights are off).
Set Up and Usage
So here is how your setup should look: UVB, Heat plus fixtures for both bulbs and you should get a thermometer as well to make sure that you reach the right temperature for your savannah monitor. With the setup below you are absolutely ready to go.
It is important to understand that your bosc monitor will absorb the highest levels of UVA and UVB while basking. Therefore, it is wise to place the full-spectrum lights adjacent to the lamps that provide heat to your lizard. Be careful that you do not place the ballasts too close to the heat lamps, or they may melt or suffer other types of damage.
It is important that the full-spectrum lights are not placed too far away from the lizard. Many products are designed to be installed no more than 12 inches above the basking spot, while others are designed to sit 18 inches above the basking spot. Check the specific recommendations from the manufacturer to ensure your lizard is receiving adequate, yet not dangerous levels of UV light. Further make sure that you place these light on a screencover, not on a glass cover.
Unfortunately, many new keepers are unaware that their bosc monitor’s lighting needs are so stringent. Rather than providing them with a brightly lit enclosure, bathed in the proper ratio of wavelengths, many keepers maintain their lizards in dimly lit habitats, without access to UVA or UVB wavelengths. Providing inappropriate savannah monitor lighting can cause the lizards to become lethargic and spend long periods of time in their hiding box, rather than exploring their cage and obtaining exercise. Some lizards may even develop metabolic problems when deprived of ultraviolet radiation, which may ultimately lead to their death. To avoid these and other health problems, be sure to give your savannah monitor the lighting he requires.