Monitors

 

 
 Black RoughNeck Monitors    Quince Monitors

 

We've always had a stray monitor somewhere in our facility over the years, mostly the moderate sized semi-arboreal species: green trees, black trees, and some of the originally imported adult Quince monitors back when they were first discovered. But fresh import wild collected tree monitors are a crap shoot at best health wise and we've always had poor luck getting healthy females. So I've played with some of the more common ground species as well over the years. The Timors were avid biters and I couldn't wait to get rid of those! The only exception was the Roti Island race, aka: Peacock monitors (technically now separated out from V. timorensis and considered to be V auffenbergi) - those were great - but we could only ever get males. We also setup some captive born Ackies a few years back but I never really enjoyed them and they consistently either reabsorbed or ate their eggs for me anyway. So I let that project go as well. I even tried a group of U.S. hatched Kimberly Rock monitors many years ago, which I loved. But all my initial juvies grew up to be males so that project never went anywhere. Someday I'll try that project again but can't justify the expense for now. All in all none of my past monitor projects have worked out for one reason or another.

But I do miss having monitors around. So once I got access to some true CB Quince monitors, I decided I was going to put a more concerted effort into breeding them. From there it was an easy add to try some Black Rouchnecks, another moderately sized species that has a reputation for having good temperaments. Despite the good qualities of both these species, no one seems to be trying to breed these in the U.S.  So I figure I'll give it a shot. Then to round out the project, I finally got access to a newly imported group of Peacock monitors, so added them as well. 

 

Quince Monitors

(Varanus melinus)

 

Quince  Quince
Quince Monitor: Lg    Quince Monitor: Checkers

 

Quince monitors (Varanus melinus) have always been a favorite of mine since the first group entered the country in the late 90's and this is the species of monitor we plan on putting the most effort into. They are an "inbetween" species, not really a ground monitor but not overly arboreal either. Their build is very much like a green tree monitor on steroids or a Mangrove monitor on a diet. The Mangrove monitor is their closest relative and the resemblance is easy to see. Quince are however noticeably smaller as adults, more inclined to hang out at least a little off the ground and much less into water. The wild collected group we originally purchased were mostly young adults and painfully shy, but amazingly non-aggressive. Their restricted range led to a very short-lived importation period after which all further collecting was banned. Unfortunately getting females proved a problem and so I never got that project off the ground. More recently, a farm in Indonesian has managed to get a group breeding and the resultant hatchlings have been coming into the U.S. in small numbers. I've been buying some over the past few years (as funds allow) and setting aside the ones that catch my eye for pattern and temperament to rear for further breeders. As of this writing I have 6 set up (in groups of 2) in separate enclosures. These are ones that first of all, have proven to be the least shy, and second of all, ones with patterns that look like they will tend to stay rather than overly fade (many seem to go mostly soft yellow with minimal black patterning as adults, while I really like the black markings to accent the yellow). 

Ours have all arrived as fresh hatchlings similar to the one pictured below - being mostly black with small yellow polka dots. As they grow the pattern slowly develops more yellow and the black background begins breaking up into more of a fishnet or checkerboard pattern in a sea of light yellow. We bed them on chunky coconut fiber, keeping this very slightly damp (not wet). We also supply a large but shallow water dish for them to soak in. They almost always use this dish to defecate in so keeping the cage clean is very easy.  They seem to soak a fair amount as new arrivals but generally stop once they become accustomed to us and our routine. 

Baby Quince

Our cage floor temperatures average in the upper 80'sF to mid 90's F with basking temperatures in high 90's F. Hotter temps seem to make them bury themselves in a corner or soak all day. So despite other sites claiming they need hotter temps, ours seem to strongly disagree. We have them on a 12 hour day /12 night schedule with normal clear infrared bulbs as the heat and lighting source (no UVB). Our diet contains vit D3 and our growth rates have been excellent so we're avoiding UVB bulbs and their inherent issues. This has worked well for us with all our other reptilian species over multiple generations so we'll stick with this protocol unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

We start all the babies on a diet of frozen-thawed pinkie mice and canned cat food (Avoderm "Crab-Shrimp-Sardine"). As they grow we switch to pinkie rats and Wellness brand cubed Chicken and Turkey canned cat food, eventually offering mostly canned food with rodents given only as treats. They have done exceptionally well on this diet with nice, moderate, even growth. Most were shy and somewhat nippy the first few months but almost all will now eat from our hands (or spoon as is the usual case).  Our oldest pair is now about 16 inches or so total length and looking great (the above photos are of them in mid 2014).

Quince are a really nice species to work with - I highly recommend them.  We will continue to pick up hatchlings as circumstances allow and will try to keep some in stock to offer to our customers until we (hopefully) get our own group in production.  Most of these will be around $250 - $275 each.  Let us know if you're interested in adding one of these to your home!           

 

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Black Rouchneck Monitors

(aka: Bird monitors, Varanus rudicolis)

 

 
 Black RoughNeck Monitor juvie

 

Black roughneck monitors are are really cool monitor species. They are moderate in size (maybe 3' to supposedly 4' as adults), inherently calm natured and amazing looking body structure. The pattern and colors vary by locale, but all develop distinct neck shield scales and a unique bird-like head. Most finish out predominately black but individuals from the southern end of their  range supposedly keep more of the juvie pattern with some blue tints to the spots. 

The down side to Black Rouchnecks is that almost none are available as true captive borns', and as fresh imports they can be difficult to acclimate. They often come in nippy and sulky and take some effort to get to feed and otherwise settle in. The lose rate is fairly poor. Unfortunately most importers never hold on to them long enough to get them through the acclimation process so many pet owners have less than great success with them. But once they settle in and get use to you, they become quite outgoing.  Most people who've had these long term individuals love them!

We will not be offering wild collected specimens if only because the lose rate is too high to justify. We currently have set up 1.2 and will likely add one more male to this group to finish with two separately housed pairs if possible. We have 1.1 that we reared from juveniles last year that are set up in our kitchen nook pen. They are maybe 21" inches total length now and our male is already actively courting our female. While we don't attempt to handle them, they readily come to my hand to take food and are completely unconcerned about our presence. Our second female was purchased as a long term captive adolescent and is in our main Uro breeding building by herself while we search for a suitable mate for her. She is still getting use to me but eats readily and is slowly warming up to me.  With luck we hope to be producing a very limited number of these guys in the not too distant future!

 

 

Peacock Monitors

(Varanus auffenbergi)

 

 
 Peacock Monitors

 

Peacock monitors are essentially a slightly brighter, calmer, relative of the Timor monitor. It's hard not to argue these are really just a subspecies of Timor rather than a true different species, but that subgroup of monitors is amazingly diverse. As I mentioned above, we had a few males of these many years ago and really liked them. But no females could be located after several years of looking so we let the males go. Then in early 2015 we were offered a group of juvie Peacocks so I took the plunge and bought 9, hoping at least a few would end up being opposite sexes. I still suspect I'm really male heavy but at this tiny size (6" or so), they are really hard to sex. Peacocks finish out a nice 18" to 21" total length, somewhat like a more slender-tailed version of an Ackie monitor with a remotely similar pattern. Most texts claim they are extremely shy but so far most of ours have proven reasonably outgoing and many eat in front of us while we go about our business in the room. Of the 9, only one has offer to nip, the rest being squirmy when handled but otherwise completely non-aggressive. They are feeding great on canned food and are doing well as 3 separate colonies with no signs of aggression towards one another. I have high hopes for these little critters - time will tell!

If I can obtain more, I will offer a few to our customers, but no way to know yet if that will be a reliable option. Let us know if you're interested and we'll see what we can do.

 

  


 

Email: douglasdix@deerfernfarms.com        

Copyright 1992-2015 by  Douglas Dix. All rights reserved for all photos and text.