'The Savannah Monitor Lizard - the truth about Varanus exanthematicus'

Authors: Daniel Bennett & Ravi Thakoordyal
Date published: 2003
Name of Publisher: Viper Press, Glossop, England
ISBN: 0-9526632-9-5

Having previously cared for a Savannah or 'Bosc' Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus), one thing I distinctly remember was the wealth of contradictory care information; every aspect of their care seemed to be a grey area, from the size and type of enclosure, to the captive diet. I no longer keep this species, but I bought this title in ebook form out of interest, to help me understand their needs in captivity. This book gives a priceless insight into the wild behaviours, and captive care, of possibly the most misunderstood lizard in captivity.

Layout and language
'The Savannah Monitor Lizard' is one of the best care guides I have encountered to date. The authors not only have an intimate understanding of the captive care of these creatures, but also their biology and wild behaviours, having spent the time observing them in their native habitats. This passion and enthusiasm is communicated throughout the book, in an easy to read, but in-depth manner.

Just as any care information should, the authors start with the natural behaviours of Varanus exanthematicus, from young hatchling life in Brachytrupes burrows, through to adulthood, including how their diet and behaviours change. This is crucial to understanding their captive requirements, and illustrates why so much information about this species is incorrect. The book includes detailed diagrams and data collected from wild Savannah Monitors to drive home how these animals actually live and thrive in their natural habitats.

Care information
The book is equally as detailed when it comes to describing captive care, frequently relating to the information collected from wild Savannah Monitors. Every recommendation is backed up by a wealth of knowledge and experience, so that the reader can truly understand what it takes to keep these remarkable lizards in captivity. To me, this is one of the most important features:

Often it is the case that a keeper will choose to follow care information which is easiest for them to provide; in the case of Savannah Monitors this tends to be a small aquarium with newspaper substrate and a basking light. However, Bennett and Thakoordyal help you understand that these are an active, burrowing species, from a grassland habitat with seasonal rainfall, not the lazy, desert dwelling species they are so frequently portrayed as, and as a result, require much more enriching habitats.

The entire book is an eye opening and tragic guide to Varanus exanthematicus, but I sincerely hope that many keepers of this marvellous lizard will spend the time to learn from it, and support the work of the authors. Having ploughed through a wealth of different care sheets and websites about this species of lizard, I can honestly say that this is the most complete, well planned and executed guide to their care that I have had the pleasure of reading.

If you have any questions regarding this review, or require further information on this title, please contact me using the email address below:
Paul Edmondson

Back to reviews >>