Black Throat Monitor – Care, Size, Housing, Diet, Lifespan

Varanus albigularis microstictus or black throat monitor is a subspecies of monitor lizards. They belong to the family Varanidae. This subspecies is native to Tanzania in southern Africa.

Taxonomists have totally disagreed about how to classify both the subspecies and species of this striped and brown. This species is popularly known as the black-throated monitor lizard. Surprisingly,  this is a large-sized reptile with a very mild temperament in captivity.

The savannah monitor and the white-throated monitor, in the wild environment their temperaments might be slightly ornery. However, as a pet, they are gentle if they receive proper care and love.

Basic Guide to Caring For Black Throat Monitor

As these monitors need an extremely big enclosure, this huge lizard should only be kept and taken care of by an advanced reptile keeper. The black throat monitor can grow to be more than 60 pounds!

Again, these day-dwelling (diurnal) lizards like to spend most of their time hiding or burrowing under rocks. Also, the black-throated monitors are joyful and playful creatures that require stimulation; otherwise, they will get restless and bored and might lash out as a result.

Generally, small lizards like chameleons and geckos, prefer not to be cared for and handled by humans. However, in reality, the large-sized lizards which belong to the monitor family require interaction with a view to habituating them to their masters.

A lot of research and studies show that these lizards are extremely intelligent in order to recognize their human caretakers. 

In captivity, black-throated monitors may become aggressive if they are not regularly handled by humans. These big animals will puff up their hiss and bodies when they feel stressed or threatened.

Even they are known to bite. Provided the size of the animal, a bite from a black throat monitor can cause some severe damage.

If you notice a monitor lizard starting to puff up their bodies and hiss, back away and leave your monitor lizard alone until it shows clear indications of calming down.

For reptiles, stress is very harmful to them. Stress may lead to a lot of subsequent health issues and a weakened immune system. Exercise is a very good stress reliever for all pets. Just like dogs, your black-throated monitors can be walked outside in warm weather using a leash and harness. For your monitor lizard, this is a great way in terms of UVB rays, socialization, and many more. Exercise is all good for their overall health.

Housing the Black Throat Monitor

A black-throated monitor needs a strong and large enclosure. A vast majority of monitor owners end up constructing a permanent enclosure for the black throats out of plexiglass or wood. This type of enclosure must be big-sized and sufficiently spacious for your monitor lizard to turn around, walk forward a few steps, and normally stretch out. 

 In order to bask and climb on these heavy reptiles should be given a variety of places. Sturdy branches for the purpose of climbing and shelves at different heights give your big pet spaces to bask up and spaces to explore near the heat lamps in the ceiling. Add secondary ways and subsequent ramps to climb up and down.

A utility tub with ramps or a hard plastic kiddie pool added for smooth entry and exit is appreciated by these giant lizards even though they are not expert swimmers.

Since the tub water generally needs to be changed daily, you need a tub with a proper drain system for convenient cleaning. Again, in order to keep the temperature around 80 F, you will also require a heater with safety features for the water.

Even giant black throat monitors want a place where they can feel secure and safe. Therefore a hiding space should be provided for them.

To serve as a hiding area, you can use plywood to make an inverted wooden box. Ensure that all furnishings in your monitor lizard’s cage are properly bolted in place.


The monitor lizards are good diggers. So you have to provide them an earthen floor (or the substrate). A deep layer of substrate material is required to be added to the enclosure; clean dirt mixed with sand is enough. Under the substrate, tile or vinyl flooring can be used, since it can be cleaned very easily. However, digging claws of monitor lizards may damage this layer of the substrate material.


These lizards like hot temperatures since they hail from Africa. In Tanzania, the climate is tropical where monitor lizards stay. It is over 68 F the entire year (except at the maximum elevations). Given the monitor lizard with a basking room that reaches into the maximum 90-degree range during daytime while staying above 75 F during the night.


To remain healthy, a source of UVB lighting for roughly 12 hours per day is necessary for your monitor lizards. One best source of UVB is direct sunlight. However, it is not always available. Sunlight entering through windows is not a source of actual UVB because the window glass filters out these invisible UVB rays.

Black throat monitors need the addition of UVB ray support like other monitor lizards. Special UVB emitting bulbs and reptile heat lamps can be used to give your pet proper temperatures and a day/night cycle which includes the useful rays that are emitted by the sun.

If you want to keep your black-throated monitor outside all year-round and it receives natural sunlight, then it’s not necessary to provide them with artificial UVB lighting.

Black-throated monitors are obligate carnivores in the Tanzanian wild environment which are actual carnivores that are unable to digest plant matter.

They eat aquatic animals, birds, eggs, insects, small reptiles, and rodents. But in captivity, they have to eat an l0t of whole prey items such as birds and mice.

Other rodents along with rats and young chickens are usually perfect options for their meals. Snakes, eggs, fish, lizards, crustaceans, and also freshwater shellfish are part of all fair game and provide good variations to their diet.

Insects, for instance, cockroaches, mealworms, and crickets can be offered to monitor lizards in addition to their day-to-day diets of birds and rodents.

If insects are offered to them, then firstly dust them with some calcium powder. Secondly, ensure that the insects are gut-loaded.

The monitor lizards that are captive-bred are willing to consume previously killed prey. However, the monitors that are wild-caught may only want to consume live prey.

The majority of the monitor owners purchase frozen mice that are previously killed in bulk quantities online and thaw them as required. 

A few debates arise as to whether these monitor lizards are required to hunt or stalk before consuming, however, if the monitors are raised in a captive environment then it is usual that this primal instinct is suppressed.

You should adjust the diet schedule of your black throat monitor if your pet becomes overweight or too thin. Feed your monitor lizards a few times every week. With a view to adjusting feedings as required, weigh your monitor every month.

For drinking water and food, use sturdy bowls. To prevent spillage, using bowls that could be firmly attached to the side of the monitor cage is the best way. A freshened water bowl is to be given through your monitor lizard has a pool for wading.

Common Health and Behavior Problems 

If your black throat monitor lizard looks unwell or otherwise lethargic, you are suggested not to try to treat those symptoms by yourself. Please go to an exotic animal veterinarian who specializes in monitoring lizards and seek treatment from them.

Like a lot of other pet reptiles and other monitor lizards, black throat monitor lizards are also susceptible to metabolic bone diseases. This is the result of a calcium-phosphorus imbalance. Generally, if your lizard isn’t getting sufficient UVB lighting to generate Vitamin D then this type of disease may occur. 

Constipation due to impaction is an important health concern to watch out for with any kind of big-sized lizard. Black-throated monitor lizards have voracious appetites like other large-sized lizards. This means your lizards eat things that they easily cannot digest, such as the substrate or sand from their cages.

Though black throat monitor lizards are known to get parasitic infections, they don’t get parasitic infections as often as the small-sized lizard species. Often the presence of parasites shows insufficient husbandry conditions which can be easily rectified with adjustments in their housing. However, it is suggested that safe medical treatment by a veterinarian is necessary.

How to Choose Your Black-Throated Monitor Lizard?

They belong to the strong and large reptiles category which are challenging pets for this reason. Before keeping such a big animal, ensure that you have the necessary resources available to feed and house them. Also, it is important to check and follow the local laws regarding owning such exotic animals where you reside.

As with a large number of exotic pets, we recommend you to obtain them from a reputable black throat monitor lizard breeder who will easily tell you their health history. 

Smooth skin, general alertness, and clear eyes are all signs of a healthy black-throated monitor. 

On the other hand, it may be ill if it doesn’t take food readily when offered or appears lethargic. 


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