Bosc/Savannah Monitor Care Sheet
Varanus Exanthematicus - The bosc monitor, or savannah monitor is known as a medium sized species of the monitor family. It is a common choice for the monitor owner and is sometimes a good first monitor. They require alot of time and attention but make a great pet when cared for properly.
The bosc is commonly found in Western Africa - typically Ghana or Togo.
Wild caught or Captive bred?
A wild caught bosc monitor will tend to be smaller as food is often not as readily available in the wild as it is in captivity. Captive bred boscs are always the best specimens of this species to have as a pet and WC specimens should be avoided at all times. If in doubt about a pet shop owners advice on whether a bosc is WC or captive bred, ask to handle the monitor.
A WC specimen will tend to have scarring or sores from were it has struggled with prey in the wild. A healthy bosc will have clear eyes, the nose area and vents should be clear of shedded skin and the mouth should be clean with nothing matted near it. Check for burns, often on the tail or back area of the monitor. If in doubt, ask the owner if he still has contact with the breeder and ask if you can have the details yourself. Also ensure you ask how well the specimen is eating and how often it feeds.
Bosc monitors are sometimes classed as being difficult to sex but the hemipenal bumps underneath should indicate the sex of your bosc. Girls tend to only have one bump whilst the males have 2. Also the girls tend to have a much blunter snout than the males.
Around 12 yrs but it has been known for a bosc to live upto 15 yrs old.
Activity of the bosc monitor
Bosc monitors can be active day and night but most often it is during the day they are most active. Monitors like to burrow and they are also known to enjoy climbing when given the oppurtunity.
A hatchling bosc ( 3 -5 inches ) will be fed only on crickets and insects. They should be fed daily.
A hatchling upto 1ft should begin to eat pinkys and then fuzzy mice. It should have 2-4 mice, four times a week. Crickets should be fed as often as possible for exercise. Eventually your monitor will stop showign interest in crickets but try to feed for exercise and entertainment.
Juveniles should be fed mice twice a week. 1-6 mice should be enough. Remember - you bosc may look like he's hungry but this species is a reday eater and will happily eat whatever it can until it can no longer eat any more. Bosc monitors are prone to obesity which can cause fatty liver disease. Don't be tempted to overfeed your bosc, he will only suffer and shorten his life.
Adult boscs - 3years old - Should eat adult mice twice weekly. The number always depends on how active your bosc is and also his size. rats can also be fed but again, watch for overfeeding. Hard boiled eggs will also be a good treat but do not feed this too often. Egg can also be fed in small amounts to a juvenile bosc but its not recommended to feed them this more than once a month.
Feed insects as often as you possibly can, mario worms and adults locusts are my juvenile boscs favourites. Roaches, earthworms and snails may also be given. Exercise is vital to monitors to avoid obesity and fatty liver disease. A sign of obesity often occurs in the tail first when it begins to look fatty. If you are concerned, lower the amount you feed or consult your reptile vet.
Fresh water should be readily available at all times. Your bosc is likely to soil in the water usually so it will be needed to be changed regularly. I provide my bosc a seperate little water bowl for drinking as well as a large tray for his soaking.
Boscs can grow to 5ft in length so a large enclosure is vital. The minimum size should be 6ft x 3 x 2 but the larger the better. A room especially for your bosc would be even more perfect for the space to exercise and move freely but if this is not possible, just ensure you have what is stated as minimum size.
Reptile leashes can also be purchased from pet stores to 'walk' your reptiles and allow them to bask in the sunshine outside. They should never be left unattended on these leashes and you should be very cautious if you decide to take your reptile to a public place. Not all reptiles enjoy the outdoors but it can be nice for them if they enjoy it.
If you allow your reptile to bask on a window, remember UV will be filtered by the glass in your windows so if you want UV this way you will either need a window screen instead of glass or an open window to allow UV into the right place.
Temperatures and providing the right heat.
This means temperatures in captivity should be around 85-90F/29-32C in the daytime and drop around 10-15F/6-8C at night time. It should be dry in the vivarium, or slightly humid. High humidity will cause a bosc monitor to contract respiratory infections and can even be fatal if prolonged.
The heat should be provided with a under-tank heatpad and a basking light. It is a controversial subject whether UV lighting is neccessary with boscs. UV lighting is vital to some reptiles for producing vitamin D3 which enambles them to digest calcium in their diet. Providing a bosc with UV lighting will not harm a reptile, though it has not been proven that not providing it for this species will cause any damage to your bosc monitor, such as metabolic bone disease. If in doubt, provide it for your bosc.
Soil is the most loved substrate for the bosc monitor, often partially mixed with sand to create a good burrowing mixture. Often woodchips are used but for a young monitor, thse can risk impaction so should be avoided. Newspaper is also sometimes used for hatchlings. Play sand is cheap and non-toxic and is also a good substrate. Calci-sand should not be used under any circumstances, its a high risk impaction cause and can be fatal for your reptile. Dyed woodchips I would also avoid as it can dye your reptiles' skin. I have also used bran as a substrate as it is edible and can be digested by reptiles. It is also quite a cheap substrate and looks very natural.
Hides and decoration
Large hides should be available in your enclosure. Fake plants can be used in your enclosure and make the viv look less bare but remember boscs are from desert areas with little foliage anyway. Live plants are often destroyed by monitors and be sure to use safe, non-toxic plants. Logs are great for your bosc to climb and bask on, as are rocks but be sure to make sure they don't exceed temperaturs of 105F as any higher will burn your reptile.
Breeding boscs in captivity is rare and not a subject I have much information about. If you wish to breed bosc monitors then you will need to get in contact with an experienced breeder to discuss it before ever attempting to mate your monitors.
Handling and taming your bosc
Bosc monitors are known to be a first monitor, but shouldn't be seen as an ideal first reptile. Handling them can be complicated and taming them can be even harder. They require a calm hand and regular handling. There are many methods for taming a bosc. This is mine:
- Firstly, introduce your bosc to your hands. When he is awake in the enclosure, put your hand into the enclosure and give him clean water. Show him you are giving him some food and not there to harm him. He may go and hide during your first several tries at this but don't try to force him out of hiding
- When he eventually stops running to hide, move your hand to gently pat his back, remove your hand from the enclosure before he gets agitated.
- Repeat this until he is no longer showing any annoyance and gently pat his head. If you are still nervous, dn't attempt this as he will sense you're nerves and become nervous as well.
- When you eventually handle your bosc from out of the enclosure, do not hold him too tight as he will not stop trying to escape. Hold him firm but gently. I found it helps to sit with my bosc and rest him on a cushion for this task.
- If you struggle to calm him on your lap, try him in a box, gentle patting him again like you did in his enclosure.
- If you have got this far you are doing really well!
- Eventually you should be able to loosen your grip on your bosc and feel safe around him. Try gently scratching him in different places and find where his favourite spots are, he should close his eyes and relax. My bosc enjoys being stroked near his ears best!
- There you have it, a relatively tame bosc. Like any animal he can turn against you at any time but do be cautious to avoid attacks and aggression. If your bosc bites, have a bottle of vinegar at hand to drip some into his mouth to make him release. Boscs have lockjaw and can and will hold onto you for hours if they feel threatened. If your bosc does happen to bite, allow him to calm down the next couple of days with minimal handling.
- Bath time can be a great time for your bosc. They love a soak and if you run them a warm bath they will happily have a swim and soak for a while and its great fun to watch them. Don't leave them unattended though in case they escape, boscs can cause alot of damage when they escape and can injure themselves very easily therefore costing you alot of money to replace broken items and take your bosc to the vet!
Boscs are wonderfully intelligent species.
They make great pets and are lovely to watch. They love having people to look at outside their enclosures and mine enjoys looking at the cats! A shame about these creatures is that people often buy them young at cheap prices and do not realise the space they need as adults. If you are thinking of buying a bosc, ensure you do a lot of reading of many caresheets and have everything planned for their future. So many boscs end up in rescue centres due to people not making sure they know all the facts. There are smaller monitors availble if a monitor is really what you are after but they can be more expensive. There are also larger monitors avilable but these are for the experienced monitor owner.
Shopping List For Your Bearded Dragon
Please use our shopping list as a guide for when you decide to buy your new bearded dragon. Full setups can be purchased at Lizard Lounge, Just ask a member of our team for information.
- Heat mat/spotlight
- UVB tube/UVB heat lamp
- Thermometers x 2
- Silver reflector for tubes
- Dome reflector
- Food and water bowl
- Bearded Dragon care book
- Live foods
- Calcium supplement
- Vitamin supplement
- Cage furnishings
- Pet safe disinfectant Deodoriser
**Please only take the information given in any of our caresheets as general advice. They may not provide an exact answer to your particular reptiles problem and are to act as a general guide and 'heads-up' to keeping reptiles.
We cannot be held responsible for any problems your reptile encounters following the reading of these pages.**