IONIDES MONITOR CARE SHEET
See the Savannah Monitor FAQ here
Check out the Pro Exotics Monitor Pro Pack.
This caresheet addresses Ionides (Blackthroat) Monitor availability, morphs, seasonality, sexing, pricing, shipping, and most importantly, setup and care.
Ionides monitors are a great choice for the keeper looking to work with a big lizard, but not something as enormous as a full grown Water monitor. Ionides monitors will approach that 5 to 6 foot size, but they typically have half the mass of a large Water, making them easier to setup, and allowing for simpler interaction. This is still a large lizard, and is visually impressive, but it is also a more realistic animal for most hobbyists to keep successfully.
For best availability of baby Ionides, try catching the height of season, which is December through March. During those months, we usually have a good selection of babies available.
We go through a lot of trouble at Pro Exotics to provide the best Ionides in the country, and i sincerely believe Pro Exotics offers the cream of the crop in Blackthroat (and certainly other) monitor babies. That is made possible by our animal selection process, as well as our husbandry practices, both of which contribute to healthy, vibrant, beautiful animals.
We select our farm hatched (f.h.) babies from the hundreds of baby Ionides that are hatched in Afrika every year, where 99% of the babies in the u.s. come from. We are also working with u.s. captive born Blackthroats and Whitethroats (Albigularis), but they are still quite rare, and quite a bit more expensive than farm born babies. You should consider those animals, as they are true gems, but also typically at $250-$550 ea. (See some u.s.c.b. Ionides babies here.)
From the hundreds of f.h. babies offered to us each year, we select only the very best, cherry picked for color, pattern, and health. A key to making the best selection possible is being offered the first pick of each shipment of monitors, and through the years, we have worked our way to the absolute top of the ladder, and no one picks monitors before we have had a chance to turn them down first. That is why we have the best Ionides, Waters, Peachthroats, etc. Certainly it helps that we work closely with Bushmaster Reptiles, the premier importer of Afrikan reptiles (not just monitors, but snakes and other reptiles as well) in the country. Kamuran has logged hundreds of hours at the Afrikan farms and facilities (and even worked on the legislative side of things to keep our industry alive), working to consistently bring in the latest and greatest, and he takes great pride in setting the industry importing standard. We on the other hand, take great pride in trying to set the standard for caring for these amazing animals once they have reached the u.s.
All of our monitors at Pro Exotics are approached with a similar strategy, varying here and there to account for feeding and humidity needs, but it basically breaks down to "keep 'em hot and feed 'em a lot!"
Ionides babies are kept at Pro Exotics in single setups, or in pairs, in 10 or 20 gallon long tanks. There is no trough filled with dozens and dozens of babies, as you will find at other facilities. Our animals are kept on slightly dampened (not wet) cypress mulch, with multiple hide spots (see the Wood Stack hidespot FAQ at our site). There is a large water bowl available at all times, and the wood stacks provide an elevated basking spot on one side. The cages and water bowls are cleaned daily (many facilities clean weekly and some not at all!) and we also have a weekly soaking program for all of our monitors (including breeders).
Soaking your monitors weekly is not only recommended, but an important aspect of PE husbandry. Soaking in room temp water for 1 to 2 hours allows the animals to completely hydrate, as well as helps with any stuck sheds on the delicate toes and tails. You should use water that comes up to the shoulder (or body thickness) of your monitor, so they can easily keep their heads above water. We have used this technique for a few years now, and have had tremendous success. Keep in mind that when soaking baby monitors (or snakes), they often float on the water, not having enough mass to sink to the bottom and walk around in water up to their tiny shoulders. If they literally have to swim in the water for the entire 2 hours, they may die of exhaustion.
Our substrate preferences for monitors in our collection have changed with time, and while we used to use cypress mulch almost exclusively, we have now largely switched over to soil. After trying a few different soil mixes (check out that FAQ), we not only found a "store bought" mix that works well, but a locally purchased decomposed granite that works extremely well, holding both moisture and burrows beautifully. This decomposed granite is now our preferred substrate, and while we continue to keep the baby Ionides on cypress before shipping out, you should consider a soil mix for your permanent setup, your monitors will be much happier for it.
Temperatures are another crucial factor (along with proper hydration and nutrition) to a healthy monitor. You cannot afford to make a mistake in this area, as it can mean life or death for your animal. You also cannot cut corners in this area. Toss out your dial thermometers, and stick those color changing strips on the bottom of the trashcan, that is where they belong. You can get terrific digital thermometers from Pro Exotics for $15. These come with a probe, and they have a Min/Max reading as well. You can mount the base of the thermometer inside the cage, in an area away from the basking spot, to measure the ambient temperature of the cage itself. Move the probe around the cage, check the basking spot, check the hide spots, check the "favorite" spot, check the far end of the cage. Check it all, and know what is happening. Find the range of your cage, from hottest spot to coldest spot, use the Min/Max reading to check your night drop, and make sure these temps fall within the parameters you have set. If they don't match, do what you need to do to get them there. Changing a hot spot from 95°F to 130° F is often as simple as raising the basking spot a few more inches toward the basking light. (Upgrade your temperature capabilities with a Temp Gun.)
We use basking spot temperatures of 130° F for the Blackthroat babies, with ambient cage temperatures of 85° F. At night, it is important that the temperatures do not drop much below 80° F. If you insist on allowing the temps to drop below 80°, you may start to court respiratory infections, so it is important to use red bulbs, ceramic bulbs, heat panels, or whatever it takes to keep those temps up and your monitor healthy. Many large monitor breeders, including Pro Exotics, often run daylight cycles and temps 24 hours a day. This keeps temps up, metabolism high, and our monitors stay in the best of health. You don't have to run a 24/7 day cycle, but look at your night drop closely when brainstorming about your lethargic (or mouth bubbling, or non eating) monitor.
Along with the proper temperatures, feeding plays a key factor in the well being of the baby Blackthroats. Pro Exotics' diet consists of crickets, mealworms, feeder roaches, rodents, and thawed raw ground turkey. We supplement the food items with Miner-All nearly every feeding. Crickets or mealworms are offered 4 days a week, crawler mice (thawed) are offered once a week (typically two to three crawlers per animal), and turkey is offered once a week as well. We strongly encourage folks to feed meat no more than twice a week. Crickets should make up the bulk of a baby monitors diet, and the animal will grow terrifically if fed on supplemented crickets alone.
Meats are offered for additional protein and calories, but you must keep in mind that these are small babies, and as such have small digestive systems. Loading them down with too much meat will not only encourage compaction and digestion problems, but it will act like monitor steroids on these guys, and you will then have an aggressive terror on your hands. Many customers have called to ask about the aggressiveness of their new baby Ionides, and more often than not, it is the case that they simply enjoy watching their animal chase and eat the mice, and they have been feeding nearly an all meat diet. When switched back to a cricket based diet, these same animals return to their predictable, tractable selves, within a few weeks. Raise a terrific baby Ionides, not a holy terror, follow our recommended diet.
The big change many keepers insist on making is offering a "wide and varied diet". We consider the above mentioned diet to be plenty wide and plenty varied. The additional foods keepers feed to their monitors often come with an additional price. Wild caught food items typically harbor nasty parasites that your baby is not going to be equipped to handle. "Feeder goldfish" are some of the nastiest things available, you are not feeding an Oscar, you are feeding a captive lizard. Exotic foods like crayfish and crabs are not only expensive, but seasonal, and what exactly are you going to do when your new baby monitor gets hooked on food that costs $8 per pound or more and refuses to eat anything else? Did i ever tell you about the guy who got baby rabbits to feed his ball python to "celebrate" Easter? Why??!! This stuff happens. Too frequently. Play it smart, feed a steady, proven, inexpensive diet, and have a terrifically healthy monitor.
Speaking of healthy monitors, Pro Exotics also goes through a medication process with our f.h. monitors, using Flagyl, Panacur, and Droncit medications to address any internal parasite situations. Our babies are successively wormed three times each to ensure not only a healthy appetite, but a healthy metabolism and growth rate. Going through this process on your own time and money can cost more than a hundred dollars through a veterinarian, here at Pro Exotics, we do it as a part of our routine husbandry.
For those of you wanting "a pair" of Ionides monitors, or a "female" baby, you have to understand that monitors (of all types) are not visually sexable as babies, and there is no way to guarantee a particular sex when you are selling babies. Anyone who tells you different is trying to deceive you. Sexual characteristics start showing up as early as six months old, and as late as a year. You can look for head shapes, body shapes, hemipenal bulges, and other factors when trying to determine sex, but it is all still educated guess work. Unless a male monitor plainly (and fully) everts a hemipene in your view, it is so very difficult to be sure of the sex of your animal (females will also evert a similar looking hemiclitoris, only confounding the situation). Some folks may have a "female" monitor for 3 years before it has suddenly everted a hemipene that wasn't thought to have existed in the first place. At Pro Exotics, we are happy to go through the available animals, comparing the few characteristics, and select animals to fit your needs to our best abilities, but a particular sex just cannot be guaranteed.
Pricing on the baby Ionides can vary according to the time of the season, but f.h. babies are typically available in the $175-$225 range. We have seen them priced as low as $75 on the internet, but more than ever with these animals, you get what you pay for.
Shipping of the monitor babies is typically $35 for UPS Overnight to your door, and there is a $10 box charge for the insulated box and heat packs, and certainly we do pay close attention to extreme weather conditions when selecting a shipping date. (See our shipping info here.)
That's pretty much it for the Ionides babies, and you may have noticed the care is similar to our approach with other monitor babies. The truth is, we approach them all similarly, adjusting each setup to account for size differences and humidity needs. Temps don't vary much, and neither does the feeding. We work extremely hard here at Pro Exotics to provide you with the very best monitor babies in the country, and we take great pride in what we do. We offer complete customer support, and we are available by phone or email for your monitor questions. Thanks for taking the time to consider us, and we look forward to helping you select a great baby in the future.
Lots of folks ask about further information on keeping larger, adult monitors, so I will cover that very briefly here.
Caring for a larger monitor is not that much different from caring for a baby, in theory. It is harder to nail your temps in a larger cage, and you have to adjust a number of the details like diet and feeding, but most aspects of successful husbandry are based on the same line of thinking.
For an adult Ionides monitor, you should expect to provide at least an 8 ft.-12 ft. cage, and perhaps an entire room. We built a number of 10 foot circular cages in 2002 that have worked very well for us. They are built around the galvanized water trough bases, for our breeders they are 10 feet in diameter, and they have an additional 2 feet of height that brings the total height of the cage to about 4 foot. This allows for 2 feet of soil, and another 2 feet for basking light and cage furniture setup. We don’t have specific plans, we simply applied ideas and theory that we have learned from years of keeping reptiles, and the cages have turned out very well. We do have pictures of these cages available at our site, in the monitor and facility photo albums, check them out for ideas for your own custom caging.
The internet does not have a lot of large monitor caging information available, but try some of the caging and monitor forums at kingsnake.com, and you will be able to see what other folks have done, some successfully, some not. I would certainly encourage you to base your larger cage around a galvanized water trough base, and build up from there, it is easily the most durable, long lasting, economical choice available at this time.
After about a year’s time, your diet for your baby Ionides should start focusing less on the insects, and more on the meats. For a yearling, a rodent based diet is healthy, affordable, and ideal. Your feeding may gradually go from 7 days a week to 3, 4, or 5 days a week, and that is one of the details that varies from animal to animal. With the proper basking spots, and full size adult animal can still digest a lot of food, so once a week feeding (an old husbandry technique) is not recommended.
We have a lot more applicable, usable, and valuable information at our site’s FAQ, but I will list some of the Ionides monitor related FAQ’s here for you:
What is a Monitor Pro Pack?
Strategies for Creating a Monitor Breeding Group
The Importance of a Temp Gun and Knowing Your Temperatures
I can't afford a Temp Gun, is there a cheaper alternative?
Why don't you sell Nile Monitors?
How do I feed the turkey diet?
How do you mix your soil?
What is a "Retes Stack"?
Why do you have a soaking program?
Keeping an ideal setup
Gee Robyn, do you have any feelings on hidespots?
Why do you suggest using a glove?
My monitor book/internet tells me such and such, you are telling me different
Be sure to check out our info packed FAQ that covers ALL KINDS of great reptile info!
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