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Asian Water Monitor

For the seasoned reptile handlers and pet owners, caring for an Asian Water monitor can be a highly rewarding choice. Having the third largest reptile as your very own pet is like caring for your own baby dinosaur.

You’re sure to find hours of satisfying time bonding and interacting with this intelligent lizard. It may not be a primary choice for novices mainly for its size but also because intermediate to advanced owners must already be well-informed (and experienced in some way) on how to care for a majestic monitor lizard like the Asian Water monitor. Read on to know more about caring for this reptile.

Asian Water Monitor Facts

  • Experience level: intermediate to Advanced
  • Family: Varanidae
  • Scientific name: Varanus salvator
  • Average adult size: 48 to 72 inches (4 to 6 feet) with males averaging 5 feet minimum
  • Lifespan: 12 to 20 years (in captivity)
  • Clutch Size:  6 up to 18 eggs, up to 2 clutches per year
  • Egg Incubation Period: 8 to 9 weeks
  • Food: crabs, mollusks, insects, eggs, even snakes and other fish
  • Average Temperature: Between 25°C to 32°C (daytime) and 22°C (nighttime)
  • Humidity: 70% to 100%
  • UVB lighting: Highly Recommended
  • Average price range: $130 – $300
  • Conservation Status: Little concern

The Asian Water monitor is also called Water Monitor or Common Water Monitor, and Sumatran Water Monitor. It is among the largest order of reptiles in the world. Because of successful captive breeding, this species may be seen in various unique colors and patterns.

It belongs to the Varanidae Family and Varanus Genus. The recorded elevation is at 5900 ft or 1,800m. The geographical distribution is South East Asia. The species range eastward including India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and other South-East Asian countries.

Asian Water Monitor Care Sheet

Asian Water Monitor Habitat

asian water monitor laying on a branch
Common Water Monitor

Asian water monitors are native to tropical surroundings. It thrives in a hot and humid environment. In the wild, you can see them roaming the tropical forests. These monitor lizards are great at adapting and survival rates are high. They can thrive in the wild and in captivity. They can adjust to urban settings after some acclimation.


Because of their large size, Asian water monitor lizards normally require a large enclosure. Records show that these can grow over 9 feet long. Provide your Asian water monitor lizard a good amount of space to venture around since it is a highly active reptile pet.

Make sure to build a good, solid construct. The species is also semi-aquatic so you have to design the enclosure with a spot for soaking. Provide a size that will allow your pet reptile enough space to swim as these are excellent swimmers that will enjoy the ability to do unrestricted laps.

Baby monitors can start life in a small tank but be prepared to go larger soon. Some captive breeders recommend a minimum of 4-feet deep and 8-feet long enclosures.


Regular cleaning is essential. Asian Water monitors can defecate frequently. Adult ones may dirty even their water bowl and soaking (or swimming) area daily, so, you’d need to clean the dish and tub every day.

Some have been successful at training their pet lizards to defecate at a specific spot. That’s something you can try since Asian Water monitors are highly intelligent. Strainers and filters make cleaning your substrate easier.

Have them on hand and in the enclosure so you can easily separate fecal matter and other debris from your rocks, soil, or sand. Choose reptile pet-friendly cleaners and sanitizers that don’t contain harmful properties and strong odors that may be repulsive to your Asian Water monitor lizard.


Provide a natural look and feel to its environment by using a substrate that is familiar to the Asian Water monitor. For options, you can choose and combine barks (like coconut barks), leaf filters, soil, sand, other leaves, rocks, and etc. These not only mimic the natural surroundings but helps with moisture retention and humidity.

Temperature and Humidity

Since Asian Water monitor lizards are tropical creatures, hot and humid is how they like it. Maintain temperatures at 25°C to 32°C during the daytime and no colder than 22°C during the night.

A basking light is advisable as it gives your pet reptile the choice of extra warmth whenever it feels like it. A 35°C basking spot may suffice. A thermal gradient is highly recommended.

This allows ease and steadiness for your pet Asian Water monitor to choose the spot for more warmth or cold as it desires at any particular time. Maintain humidity at 70% minimum. Mist the enclosure daily. Provide fresh water daily.

Have a thermometer  for temperature and humidity control and monitoring. Choose heating kits with thermostat to ensure that the enclosure never goes beyond the preferred temperature.


UVB lighting is highly recommended because it helps metabolize calcium in your Asian Water monitor. UVB lights are like the sun’s rays on your pet monitor’s skin. It can help create Vitamin D3. Check the condition of the bulb and be prepared to change it every 6 months or as soon as it becomes inefficient.


Provide strong climbing branches for your Asian Water monitor. Choose wide sturdy logs especially for adult pets. Have a bath basin or tub for soaking and swimming.

Asian Water Monitor Feeding

asian water monitor varan close up
Sumatran Water Monitor

Being one of the larger reptiles, the Asian Water monitor can feed on large prey in the wild. They are also known to feed on carcass, just like the Komodo Dragons.

In captivity, you can feed your juvenile pet with fish, frogs, small mice, and varied insects. As it enters adulthood, you can start feeding it with bigger rodents, mollusks, larger fish, and insects.

Vary the diet with crickets, super worms, hard-boiled eggs, and beef heart. Treat your pet with more live feeding because it is a natural hunter and loves to chase.

Temperature and Handling

Short handling time and for a few times is the recommendation for new pets. Asian Water monitors can get stressed easily especially during the initial introduction to its new enclosure and owner. 

It is quite intelligent and will realize its owner after numerous feedings and interaction. This pet reptile can be shy and jittery at first but with patience and gentle, considerate handling, you can tame your Asian Water monitor in no time.


asian water monitor varan headshot
Varanus salvator (Asian Water Monitor)

The Asian Water monitor easily adjusts to its environment. Its high agility also enables it to survive in the wild and evade predators. Wild ones can survive up to 15 years and captive-bred species can reach 20 years.

Common Health Concerns (Issues/Solutions)

Asian Water monitor lizards are strong, active, and agile. These adapt and thrive pretty well in their environment. With captive breeds, burns may be a concern especially when your pet monitor lizard is very curious and highly active.

Using a screen or efficient barrier will prevent risks of heating elements burning your pet reptiles skin. Infection may be a problem if proper and diligent cleaning is not observed. Scratches and cuts may also be a concern if accessories are not fixed properly or if these are not sturdy and strong.

Pricing and Availability

Asian Water monitors are available from a good number of captive breeders. Imports from South-East Asia may be arranged subject to local laws and imposed procedures (like documentation, acquirement, and transport).

Inquire from a reputable seller for availability and necessary information on your purchase of this type of monitor lizard. The average price range runs between $130 to $300 with some sellers offering their stock for $600 and above.

Some states may not require permits for owning a monitor lizard but strict regulations on cage sizes and other conditions are in place. An escaped pet monitor lizard may incur the owner a fine.


The Conservation status is Least Concern and there is no current threat to the species. Captive breeding is successful with various mutations taking place. The population is thriving in the wild especially in the South-East Asian region.

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Final Words

The large size of Asian Water monitor lizards makes them a better pet for intermediate to advance owners. Set-up and care are more elaborate and you need to commit yourself for the long term as the species has a long life span.

Novice handlers may especially be at risk of accidental bites particularly in the initial stages of ownership and during feeding time. Knowing the proper way of caring makes all the difference.

Learn how to rightly grow your young juvenile and it will become a calm adult you’d get to love and really bond with. If you have any experience or expertise in caring for this breed, we’d love to hear about it.

For more on finding a good pet monitor, check our guide for the best pet monitor lizards.

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