Varanus melinus

Yellow Monitor

Yellow monitors (Varanus melinus) are native to the Indonesian area and inhabit a variety of tropical mangrove/jungle type humid habitats. My absolute favorite thing about monitors is watching their behavior. I can't really hope to interpret it, but it sure is fun to watch. My two juvenile melinus live in a 4x4x2 cage with cypress mulch, vines, sticks, cork bark and a live plant. This is just what I've observed.

Activity Levels
They are most active from early to mid morning. When I come down around 10am they are basking under the light. They have bursts of activity where they go nuts climbing and exploring. They utilize the silk vines more than the large sticks. When climbing vines they wind their bodies around and use their tails a great deal. When attempting to get to another branch thats just out of reach they will hang completely by the tail and reach out with their front legs. If they can't reach they'll just drop. They seem to enjoy the live plants, they climb to the top and rest in and among the leaves.

They have a shoebox container of water which they don't seem to seek out, but if they fall in it while climbing they swim around a bit. They have created burrows and tunnels with multiple entrances that they spend most of the afternoon and all evening in. The entrances are hard to find, they are usually strategically placed under vines or branches.

I offer a dozen or so crickets daily. They are voracious eaters and run around gobbling up crickets until they have a nice pot belly, then stretch out in their basking spot. I've noticed that once they detect movement they tilt their head to the side and line up the cricket using one eye. I don't remember my ackies doing this, but find it interesting that before they pounce they seem to use monocular vision. They shake the crickets vigorously, occasionally beating them on the ground or a branch. If they are up on the basking spot when they spot a cricket they'll jump straght down about 2-3 feet and grab it.

Right now their interaction with me is limited, I don't handle them unless they get stuck somewhere but they are used to me poking around in the cage for feeding and maintenance. I figure once they grow out of the "I'm a baby monitor and everything wants to eat me" phase I'll start handling.