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V. melinus

Quince monitor

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Enclosure

Let’s start with what V.melinus enclosure should NOT be:

  • Glass aquariums. There are no fish tanks that will have acceptable dimensions to provide climbing, burrowing and aquatic activities. They are also top accessible and will make highly arboreal animal feel very vulnerable.
  • Cages with mesh tops or sides or doors in any combination. Unless you live in an area with average humidity around 70-80% and average temps around 80F those cages are not going to work.
  • Human habitat and free roaming. As stated above, unless you live in an area with appropriate climate conditions free roaming in human living quarters is not going to work as a permanent solution.
  • Tupperware, bins, snake-specific enclosures and any other animal specific enclosures. All are not suitable for a monitor lizard of any age. At this moment there are no commercially available monitor lizard specific enclosures.

V. melinus climbing in her enclosure

Starting word to describe Varanus melinus, and any other monitor lizard at this point, enclosure is LARGE. We are talking small room or walk-in cabinet sized enclosure. Let’s abbreviate Full Animal Length from tip of the nose to end of the tail as FAL. Rule of thumb for minimum acceptable Quince monitor enclosure is calculated by the following formula: 2FAL Long x 1FAL Wide x 1.5FAL High. So, for the average 4ft long V. melinus minimum acceptable enclosure size should be 8FT x 4FT x 6FT. And there is no rule for maximum - provide as large as you possibly can, you can’t be wrong. It is encouraged to double this minimum rule for hatchling and young juvenile Quince monitors, as they are very hyperactive at young ages and large amount of space helps them to develop into healthy adults.

The main reason to have enclosure that big is explained in “Info - What are Varanids” section. Large, highly intelligent and highly active foraging predators require that size to engage in their activities and grow into strong and healthy animals. Monitors in cramped enclosures show stunted growth, underdeveloped internal organs, unproportionate builds, low muscle tone, low activity and metabolism, signs of lethargy and obesity and significantly reduced lifespan. These animals are not designed to sit still by nature and need room to turn around, move, climb, dig, swim and jump.

Another reason to have large enclosure is necessity to maintain proper temperature gradient. V. melinus needs area with cool ambient temps, area with hot ambient temps and very hot basking area to properly thermoregulate. More detailed in “Keep - Temperature” section. Try to achieve all of that in a small enclosure and you will find yourself overheating it with basking feature. And if you try to counteract it with opening the top and venting then you significantly lower humidity, which will bring lots of health issues that will be described in “Keep - Humidity” section.

Baby V. melinus Heyu in a properly sized and equipped enclosure

And the final third reason to have large enclosure is room for equipment. To promote all the burrowing, climbing, aquatic activity and all the necessary temperature and humidity levels keeper needs lots of equipment placed inside the enclosure. That includes substrate layer, multiple shelving units, climbing features, branches, water setups, heating and lighting equipment, misting equipment. All that takes valuable living space and can’t be placed outside of the enclosure. In “Enclosure - Examples” section I will try to show how to provide as much useful space as possible, minimizing the impact of equipment on enclosure volume.

With all that said the only feasible way to provide a suitable enclosure for Quince monitor is to build it yourself. Or have someone build it for you. It can be built as a standalone enclosure or converted room, part of the room or walk-in closet. There are multiple ways to achieve this goal only restricted by your imagination and resources. The most important rule while building and providing for monitor lizards: forget about reptile-specific products. Most of them are overpriced and unreliable. Majority of necessary equipment, tools and materials will have to be sourced at home improvement or construction stores, lumber yards and online retailers. “Enclosure” section of this website will provide you with materials, tools, solutions and examples of enclosure builds.
For now we need to understand, that enclosure has to be properly large and everything that goes in has to be water sealed to protect it from high humidity levels and direct contact with moist substrate and water from misting systems.

Proceed to Temps and Light

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