V. exanthematicus is a lizard that belongs to the sub-genus Polydaedalus . This family also includes V. albigularis, V. niloticus, V. yemenensis and the distinct V.rusingiensis. All these animals have stong teeth that are capable of crushing nuts. V. exanthematicus is an animal that can become very large and very strong. It is frequently assumed that they will reach a size of 100cm (39.37 inches) sometimes even a bit bigger. In the wild, 100cm (=39.37 inches) is considered big. In their first year they grow the fastest, reaching a size of 60-70cm (23.62 - 27.56 inches). The second year they will grow a bit less, approaching maximum size of about 80-90cm (31.49 - 35.43 inches). From its third year on, the animal will not grow as fast and can reach maximum of 100cm (39.37 inches). Most of the monitors won't reach such a size because they will die due to a bad diet (this does not apply for each animal, but is an adequate generalization).

V. exanthematicus is frequently compared and confused with V. albigularis, leading to a lot of false information on the internet. You can distinguish the animals apart by paying attention to the following features; 1. V. exanthematicus have larger scales on its neck. 2. The nostril of V. exanthematicus sits exactly between the point of its nose and its eye. The nostril of V. albigularis sits more closely at the eye than the tip of its nose. The difference is clear if the animals are placed beside one another.

copyright F_vd_Hoeven

copyright F_vd_HoevenCopyright : F_vd_Hoeven

V. exanthematicus has a forked tongue. These lizards can sense chemicals in their air with their tongues, akin to snakes. Your lizardís tongue should be flicking rapidly prior to a feeding.

copyright Ron_and_Cindy_Taylor

copyright Ron_and_Cindy_TaylorCopyright : Ron_and_Cindy_Taylor

Savannah monitors are strong and possess sharp nails and teeth. A lizard can unintentionally deliver a nasty scratch by attempting to walk out of your hand. Its bite is strong and won't let go if it grabs on to something. Fright responses must always be prevented because if you move your hand too quickly the lizard would see that as a tasty quick prey or as a threat. Keep all of your motion subtle and pay attention to its body language. A savannah monitorís eyes portray its attitude. If his eyes are nicely open and round then he has a nice temperament but when his eyes are a bit squeezed, he might be a little annoyed. When the animal is making a blowing sound, it's warning you and is kindly asking you to disappear. Some varanids bluff a lot but will not attack you unless severely provoked. Further, I have seen my lizard 'wagging' his tail from time to time and this can occur during aggressive behavior or at feeding time. Furthermore, varanids will escape if there is danger, but when an escape route is lacking it will blow itself up and will curl its tail. He does this so that he can beat you with his tail. Some specimens do it quite a lot but I have hardly ever seen it with mine. If you listen well to your lizard and treat it with respect you will have a lot of fun with them. If you don't handle him well, the animal will not become 'tame' and eventually wind up at a pet store after driving you crazy. Let's try to prevent this. When you have problems just go to a forum and ask others for advice.

A savannah monitor is a perfect pet for people who want to begin with varanids. Feeding a savannah monitor is easier and cheaper than many of the other lizard types like, for example, bearded dragons. Savannah monitors are also hardy, and will not die as quickly from poor care as other types of monitors will. The only enemy of monitors is fat .

A savannah monitor will not hibernate because there is no long-term drop in temperature in its natural habitat.