On order over £99*
Spiny tail monitors are long and lithe ground dwelling monitor lizards found in the Northern and North West territories of Australia. They are generally brown and beige in colour with either a red or yellow tinge depending on the lineage. The tail is generally 50-60% of the body length when fully grown.
The spiny tail monitors are normally found in gaps between rocks or under slabs around rocky outcrops. Their metabolism and energy levels are quite low compared to other Australian reptiles so they are often spotted waiting in ambush for prey. In the day time they generally move between taller basking spots and warm shaded areas picking up whatever prey they might find on the way. The most common of which include beetles, cockroaches, small lizards and mammals.
Spiny-tailed monitors come from a very warm environment so they struggle with the cold and humidity of the UK. To insulate against both of these factors we recommend keeping the monitor lizard in a wooden vivarium. Due to the temperature gradient required we would normally select an enclosure as close to 4 x 2 x 2ft as possible with large vents and glass sliding front doors.
All of this ventilation should ensure that heat is lost from one side of the enclosure to the other while keeping the basking spot itself at a consistent temperature.
Spiny-tailed monitors do not tend to be a shy species so we would use this size enclosure for the monitor lizard from when it is very young. To make sure there is not too much open space for a juvenile we provide a lot more decorations to begin with and slowly remove them as the monitor lizard grows.
Naturally, spiny-tailed monitors spend a long time basking in the full heat of the sun. As such they require a very warm basking area of 100 to 110of during the day. We try to provide this heat over 1/3 of the enclosure while letting the rest of the enclosure cool to 80of on the opposite side. To achieve this we attach a strong basking lamp to the ceiling of the enclosure on one side. This is controlled by a dimming thermostat to make sure that the temperature is kept correct throughout the day. The basking lamp is left on for 10-12 hours per day.
At night, all of the lights should go off and the enclosure should be completely dark. This should make sure that the monitor lizard has a clear day night cycle.
Though at this point the sun has gone down, they would not normally get any cooler than around 80of at night. To provide this warmth throughout the night without introducing light to the enclosure we attach a ceramic lamp to the ceiling in the back corner of the enclosure. This is kept on the warm end, surrounded by a guard and controlled by a pulse thermostat to make sure that it stays at the correct temperature throughout the night. Ideally we would like 1/3 of the enclosure to remain 80of, allowing the rest of the enclosure to drop down to room temperature.
During the day your temperatures will be much too warm and the thermostat connected to the ceramic lamp should keep it off automatically. The ceramic will only begin to heat once the temperatures have dropped below 80of at night time.
Though the thermostats we sell are very reliable it is always best practise to monitor your temperatures with a thermometer. A 5of variance on the basking spot is nothing to worry about as long as your cool side is still cool. A simple dial thermometer on each side should be sufficient but digital probe thermometers are much more accurate.
Spiny-tailed monitors are a full time basking species by nature so they need an intense UVB source. We recommend a strong 10-12% UV tube running at least 2/3 of the length of the enclosure. In some cases we may increase the strength of the lamp depending on how tall the enclosure is however, in a normal 4 x 2 x 2ft vivarium the 10-12% should be suitable.
UV tubes are currently available in 2 sizes, T8 and T5. The T8 lamps are around 1 inch in diameter, they must be replaced every 6 months or so and they have an effective range of 9-12 inches. T5 lamps are the newer iteration. They are around half an inch in diameter, last 12 months and have an effective range of 18-24 inches.
Whichever lamp you choose we would advise mounting it to the ceiling, close to the back wall. This should provide a nice UV gradient from the back of the enclosure towards the front. In this configuration we achieve a temperature gradient along the length and a UV gradient along the width meaning that whatever the monitor lizards requirements they can find the perfect position within the enclosure.
Though the spiny-tailed monitor is a basking species it may desire some time in an area with no light. To achieve this we would provide partial and full hiding spots throughout the enclosure.
Spiny-tailed monitors thrive in a low humidity environment with hard decorations to climb over and bask on. When selecting a bedding we try to ensure that the pieces are unlikely to stick to the monitor lizards food, and are not going to increase the enclosures humidity. In store we normally use a coarse beech woodchip as it is clean, cheap, easy to spot clean and dust free. If you prefer a more natural looking decoration a sand / soil / clay mix would be perfect. If you plan to keep the monitor lizard in a bio-active enclosure a nutrient rich soil and clay mix with some sand for aeration would be perfect.
Though the monitor lizard has a temperature gradient running from side to side which we will be keeping at the correct temperatures there are times when the monitor lizard will want to get really hot. To allow this we use dry hard wood decorations like java wood or grapevine pieces situated near the warm end but far enough from the lamps that the monitor lizard is not at risk of coming into contact with the basking lamp. The monitor lizard will climb its decoration to get to a hotter part of the enclosure.
Monitor lizards love the warmth coming from their basking lamp but they also appreciate secondary belly heat which will radiate from warm objects. Natural rocks like slate are perfect for this, so are heavy artificial ornaments. These decorations can be placed under and around the basking area and should warm up nicely. If the lamp is too low there is a chance that natural rocks could get too hot so you are best to check the surface temperature to avoid burns.
As discussed in the lighting section there will be times when the monitor lizard does not want any UV and needs a bit of shade. To ensure that the monitor lizard can get away from the light whenever necessary we advise spreading full and partial cover throughout the enclosure. Examples of full cover decorations would be caves, flat cork pieces or any other ornament that provides a shady spot to rest. Examples of partial cover would include tall plants, trailing plants and themed ornaments like skulls or cactus skeleton.
Spiny-tailed monitors are carnivorous meaning that they will eat a varied diet of insects and other meat.
For this species we would recommend brown crickets. They are very nutritious, fairly easy for the monitor lizard to hunt, widely available and great value for money. If your monitor lizard will not take them, black crickets and locust are also a brilliant alternative. Every now and again you might want to provide your monitor lizard a treat, for this purpose you could feed: waxworms, calciworms, cockroaches, mealworms or beetle grubs. The grubs and worms tend to be quite fatty so we normally offer these a maximum of once or twice a week. Mealworms, morio worms and cockroaches can be difficult to digest so we would normally only provide these to mature monitor lizards (18 months or older) and only once or twice a week.
We always include a medium or large sized water bowl in the monitor lizards enclosure. You might never see the monitor lizard drink from it but it should be there as a back-up. You might notice the monitor lizard use it for bathing, this is usually to cool down or to help loosen it's shedding skin. Both the food dish and water bowl should be kept on the cool side of the enclosure to prevent them from raising the humidity in the enclosure.
Spiny-tailed monitors will get most of what they need from their diet but there are some vitamins and minerals that they require in higher concentrations. These are normally provided in the form of calcium and vitamin powders which are dusted onto the live food.
There are many brands and types of supplement but normally they come down to a pure calcium, calcium and vitamin or vitamin only supplement. Within these groups they will also either include or exclude synthetic vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is produced by the reptile when it is exposed to UVB and among other functions it allows the monitor lizard to use the calcium in its diet. If you are sure that the UVB levels in your enclosure are perfect you can use a supplement without D3, if you are not sure it would be best to use a supplement with some D3.
In our store we currently use a simple calcium powder with D3 and a balanced multi-vitamin with D3 called nutrobal. For most of the animals we alternate these daily so that they get their vitamins every other day while getting calcium every day.
If you keep a male and female together, they may breed. You do not need to do anything to encourage this. As long as they are healthy and the conditions are good, it will happen naturally. You need to consider whether you want this to happen before introducing the pair. What will you do with the babies if you incubate the eggs?
A gravid female should have access to a nesting box to lay her eggs. The box should be large enough that she can fully turn-around inside it. Inside the nesting box we use a soil mix that is kept humid enough to hold its shape but not so wet that it will saturate any eggs. We have found that ProRep spider life is perfect for this.
Once laid, the eggs should be incubated in an incubator at 84oF. We incubate our eggs in sealed boxes on a moisture rich substrate (such as Hatchrite) to trap the humidity around the eggs. After approximately 60 days the eggs will start to hatch, the first babies to emerge will encourage the rest of the eggs to hatch.
Spiny-tailed monitors, as with most pets, require a clean environment to thrive. We recommend a spot clean as often as possible (every day) and a full clean every 4 weeks or so. If you are keeping the monitor lizard in a bio-active enclosure you can spot clean and monitor the enclosure. It may still be a good idea to change out the bedding a few times per year.
When cleaning the enclosure you should remove your animal, all decorations and all of the bedding. Once the enclosure is clear you can spray it all over with a reptile friendly disinfectant. These usually work very quickly and only need to be left for around 30 seconds, instructions can normally be found on the disinfectants packaging. Once the disinfectant has done its work it can be wiped away from the surfaces with a paper towel. In some cases you might want to repeat this process a second time to ensure that the enclosure is thoroughly cleaned.
Your decorations can be cleaned in a similar method, simply spray them down with the disinfectant and rinse thoroughly with water before drying them off and putting them back into the enclosure. We recommend this process is done during the day time to make sure that the monitor lizard will be going back to a warm vivarium for at least an hour before the basking lamps are turned off for the night.