Savannah monitors, when kept as pets, are known for being aggressive toward their owners. You may be wondering if it is possible to tame your savannah monitor so that it doesn’t bite, scratch and tail-whip when you try to handle it.
The good news is that it is possible to tame your savannah monitor so that it becomes a gentle pet. However, it takes time, patience, and consistency. Taming a savannah monitor can take weeks or even months, but in the end the results will be well worth it.
If you’re looking for information about how to make a great pet out of a savannah monitor, then this is the article for you. Read on for tips on taming these wonderful creatures.
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Tips For Taming Your Savannah Monitor
So here are 14 tips that will help you:
1. The Best Time To Tame Your Savannah Monitor Is When They Are Young
When it comes to taming your savannah monitor, the earlier the better.
These lizards can grow to be quite large – up to 6 feet in length – and can be difficult to handle if they’re not used to being around humans.
Fortunately, taming a young savannah monitor is relatively easy and only requires patience and consistency. Older animals who have not learned to be gentle are, of course, more difficult to tame.
2. Let Your Savannah Monitor Get Used to Its New Home
If you are getting a new savannah monitor, give it a few days to get over the move and make itself comfortable in its new home before working on taming activities.
Taming attempts are not going to go well if the monitor is still stressed from the move.
3. Get to Know Your Savannah Monitor
The first step in taming your monitor is getting to know them. Spend time observing their behavior and get an understanding of what makes them happy and what stresses them out.
This will help you immensely when it comes time to start taming them
Tip: Learn everything about caring for savannah monitors in our guide here!
4. Do Not Force Handling If Your Savannah Monitor Is Not In The Mood
Your monitor may hiss and snap its mouth, enlarge its throat and stand on its hind legs or whip it’s tail. These are all signs that it is feeling stressed or threatened and is in no mood for a handling session.
If your pet is exhibiting these behaviors, it is best to wait until it calms down before attempting a handling session.
5. What To Do If Your Savannah Monitor Is Never In The Mood For Handling
If your monitor always displays the above signs, you are probably wondering what to do next.
While we do not recommend forcing handling sessions, sometimes you need to do something even when your pet is not being cooperative.
Even small savannah monitors can do some damage with their teeth and claws, so it is important to protect yourself.
Reptile-handling gloves can help protect your hands and forearms and make your handling sessions safer.
If it is a large monitor, then more than just your hands may be at risk. In this case, you will want longer reptile-handling gloves that protect more of your arms.
Tip: Are you scared of getting bitten by your savannah monitor? We explain how much it hurts and what you can do to avoid it here.
You may also want to layer up with thick layers for protection against tail whipping from larger monitors.
Thick or padded pants can help protect your legs, and a thick jacket can help protect your upper arms, shoulders and torso.
Remember not to grab your monitor, no matter how aggressive or skittish it is. Instead, approach slowly but calmly and confidently to avoid startling it.
If your monitor is very aggressive, you may want to start out by just being near its enclosure. Do not attempt to touch the monitor, but just hang out until it calms down and accepts your presence.
Do not leave until it is calm; your leaving will be its reward for good behavior.
Repeat this process until your monitor does not get too upset at your approach and presence. At this point, you can start to introduce your hand (with a glove on!) to the monitor.
Place your hand close to the monitor, but not touching it. Again, just hang out like this until it calms down, and do not leave until it is calm.
From here, you are going to progressively get closer to your pet each time, with the ultimate goal of being able to touch and then pet it.
With time, patience and persistence, the hope is to get to the point where the handling part of taming can actually occur.
6. Handle Your Savannah Monitor Every Day
Once you reach this point, make sure to handle your savannah monitor daily. It’s important to handle your lizard regularly so that it becomes used to your presence.
Over time, your savannah monitor will learn that you are not a threat or a predator. Once that trust has been established, your monitor will see you as a friend and be more likely to exhibit “tame” behavior.
7. How To Handle Your Savannah Monitor
Remember not to swoop in from above to pick up your monitor. Many of their natural predators come from the sky, so reaching from above may scare them.
Instead, scoop them up from below, gently placing your hand under their body to support as much of their weight as possible.
Pick them up, so their head is facing away from you to avoid being bitten on unprotected parts of your body.
Make sure to hold them, so their back legs are also supported. They will feel more secure this way and less likely to panic.
They may try to squirm their way out of your grip. Hang on firmly but don’t squeeze too hard—you don’t want to hurt them, but you do need to make sure they don’t escape or fall from your hold.
8. Start With Short Handling Sessions
When you are ready, begin with short handling sessions. Start by just gently holding them for a few minutes at a time and gradually increase the length of time you hold them each day.
Initially, your handling session should be no longer than 5 minutes. You want to work up to sessions that are about half an hour long, at least once a day (twice a day is better).
9. Do Not Use Food Rewards When Training Your Savannah Monitor
Savannah monitors are very food aggressive. Therefore, using food as a reward is likely to result in unwanted behaviors, so we certainly don’t recommend using food rewards with these animals.
Instead of food rewards, good behavior can be rewarded by placing the monitor back into its enclosure where it is most comfortable.
By doing this, your pet will learn that calm behavior leads to being back in its favorite environment.
10. Do Not Handle Your Savannah Monitor At Feeding Time
It is important to clearly separate feeding time from handling time.
Your savannah monitor is going to be a lot more food aggressive when it’s time to eat, so it’s best not to try to handle them around feeding time.
Tip: Is your savannah monitor refusing to eat? We show you why your monitor does that here!
11. Be Smart About How You Handle Your Savannah Monitor
Being smart about how you handle your monitor means being aware of how your actions affect your pet. You want to make sure it is comfortable being held, so you don’t want to do things that will frighten it.
One of the most important things to remember is not to hold it up high. If it escapes your grasp, you want to be sure it will not get hurt when it lands.
We recommend sitting while you are holding your monitor. This way, if it falls from your hold, it will not fall far, and there is minimal risk of it getting injured.
12. Do Not Use Cool Temperatures to Make Your Savannah Monitor Sluggish
Savannah monitors like temperatures between 85 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit (29-32°C). Some people like to use cool temperatures to make their savannahs sluggish so that they are easier to handle.
This is not a good idea since you are not actually teaching the monitor to behave gently. It is also not good for their health to be too cold for extended periods of time.
13. Be Patient
Taming a savannah monitor takes time, patience, and consistency. Don’t expect results overnight—it could take weeks or even months before your monitor starts becoming tame.
Just keep working at it every day and eventually, you’ll start seeing progress.
14. Get Help from a Professional
If you’re struggling to tame your savannah monitor on your own, don’t hesitate to seek out professional help from a breeder in your area who has experience with monitors.
They can give you additional tips and advice on how best to tame your pet based on its unique personality and behavior.
Taming a Savannah monitor can be a daunting task, but with patience and consistency, it is definitely possible. With time and effort, you will be able to successfully train your Savannah monitor to be gentle and calm.