Many reptile owners begin to fret when their Savannah monitors refuse a meal or two. They start to wonder whether something is wrong or whether their reptile is simply a picky eater. The good news is that it may not be a cause for concern. It may simply require a little attention to detail when it comes their enclosure and environment.
A Savannah monitor may not eat due to diapause or seasonal changes. They may also refuse food if they feel insecure in their habitat or are stressed due to other pets. Temperature and humidity levels can hinder eating, as can the type and size of the food offered. A trip to the vet may be needed.
If you want to learn more about why your Savannah monitor is refusing to eat, and what you can do to help, here is what you need to know!
Table of Contents
Why Is My Savannah Monitor Not Eating?
The reasons why your Savannah monitor is refusing to eat are many, so be sure to survey their living conditions and regular dietary habits to see if any of these problems are the cause of the food refusal.
1. Diapause (Seasonal Changes)
Savannah monitors are known for surviving the dry seasons of their natural habitat by not eating, a phenomenon known as diapause.
This means that they can often go months at a time without consuming a single meal.
While it may worry conscientious reptile owners, these seasonal eating patterns are nothing to concern yourself over.
Oftentimes, this type of seasonal break in eating will take place in the middle of summer or the middle of winter. They can go up to six months without food during diapause.
Keep in mind that there is no real reason for them to fast when kept in captivity in your home. As a result, this seasonal break in feeding is often shorter than it would be in the wild.
The monitor will be more concerned with increasing body fat to survive if they need to, prompting them to eat again.
2. Insecurity in the Environment
One of the most common reasons why Savannah monitors don’t eat is because they don’t feel safe in their environment.
It could be because they are new to your enclosure. Make sure your enclosure is set up to provide adequate protection for your Savannah monitor.
To ensure that they feel secure in their habitat, give them plenty of places to hide.
Hides should be just a tad bit larger than their body size, meaning that you may need to purchase new ones as your Savannah monitor grows.
It’s important to note that these reptiles tend to be very skeptical about human interaction, and this is especially true if they were older when captured (if wild-caught). Take your time getting to know them and what they like, and you may see them come around to the food dish.
3. Low Tank Temperatures
Both inexperienced and seasoned reptile owners can struggle to maintain the proper conditions for the enclosure, particularly when it comes to temperature.
If the temperature drops too low, it’s likely that your Savannah monitor will start to refuse food.
Why does the temperature matter for eating?
First and foremost, being warm enough actually plays an important role in helping your reptile to process food.
However, it’s important to note that your monitor will also need the correct environmental setup to remain healthy and to avoid other illnesses that can stem from low temps like gout.
Here is a quick guide to the proper temperatures you should aim for:
|Enclosure Area||Temperature Range|
|Cool side||78-80 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Warm side||90 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Basking spot||130-140 degrees Fahrenheit|
4. Low Humidity
Tank conditions for Savannah monitors are crucial, especially if you find that your reptile is now refusing meals. If the temperatures are accurate, there’s still one more consideration that you need to make: humidity levels.
You might be surprised at just how high the humidity levels need to be for your reptile to be comfortable.
In the wild, you’ll often find the Savannah monitor hanging out where the water is. Bring this to your enclosure by keeping humidity levels around 60 percent.
Invest in a quality hygrometer to make sure that you’re doing a good job with humidity.
If humidity is too low, you can start misting your Savannah monitor’s cage a few times a day and make sure that its substrate holds more moisture.
Also, make sure that you have substrate that is deep enough (at least two feet) for your monitor to bury itself in it. This allows them to soak up the moisture from your enclosure like this:
5. Stress from Environment (Other Lizards or Small Enclosures)
If you’ve done much research on Savannah monitors, you likely already know that these reptiles tend to do best when kept on their own.
Too much stress can trigger them into not eating, and it often stems from having other reptiles in their enclosure or other pets too close by.
They prefer not to be social – with you or with other pets.
When you have more than one reptile in the enclosure and your monitor is refusing to eat, it may be time to invest in a separate enclosure kept in a different part of the home.
For reptile owners who have only one Savannah monitor per cage, it’s worth determining if the tank is the right size for your reptile. These monitors tend to grow very large, and their cages will need to reflect that.
Adults frequently need 6-foot x 3-foot x 6-foot cages with at least 100 square feet on the floor.
Of course, this means that you may need a custom tank created instead of one readily available for purchase at your local pet store.
Tip: Tamed savannah monitors are usually less prone to stress from their environment. We show you how to tame your savannah monitor here!
6. Picky Eaters Want Something Different
Sometimes, the reason your Savannah monitor isn’t eating is rather simple: they just don’t like what they’ve been given.
If you feed them the same meal over and over again, they’re likely to turn their nose up at it eventually.
The best thing to do before making any other adjustments is to try a different food type. Get new feeder insects to see if your Savannah monitor will eat a different type of snack.
You should also keep in mind that the food has to be the right size. Insects that are too small may not be appealing to your monitor, and insects or food items that are larger than the size of their head may be too intimidating for them to try to consume.
7. Your Savannah Monitor Is Sick
If you’ve tried all of the above solutions to get your Savannah monitor to eat, there may be a more insidious underlying cause for their hunger strike.
Illnesses can take many forms, including parasites, respiratory infections, and mites or ticks. All of these will require medical intervention.
Do a thorough once-over of your monitor to ensure that it is free from the following symptoms:
- Mites and ticks on the skin
- Bubbles around the nose and eyes
- Discharge from the eyes
- White discharge on the mouth or tongue
- Loose stool with an odor
- Blood in stool
- Not pooping for a long time
Anything out of the ordinary should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian. Get to know what’s normal for your Savannah monitor and seek help when needed.
Savannah monitors can be extremely finicky when it comes to their food and eating habits.
From tanks that aren’t the perfect condition to food that isn’t to their liking, you may notice that these reptiles often refuse what is given to them.
Make sure to pay careful attention to their habitats and overall health, as some tweaking or a visit to the vet may be in order.
Keep in mind that your Savannah monitor can go quite a while without eating, oftentimes several months during diapause. It may not be cause for concern the first time they refuse a meal!