4 things I wish I knew before getting a Black Throat Monitor

I’d be lying if I said becoming a Monitor Lizard owner was exactly how I had expected it to be. Fahrenheit has been anything but what I anticipated. But being able to watch him grow and learn, knowing all the research and time spent learning has paid off, has been a privilege. There are some things I wish I’d known before, though, so I could have prepared myself even more ready for his arrival.

Before I start the list I feel the need to just say that I, of course, spent a lot of hours researching before I took Fahrenheit on, this list is full of all the silly little things research can’t teach you and you learn as you go along.

1. They’re much smarter than you are

No, really.

Many reptile enthusiasts will agree that Monitor Lizards are easily among the smartest species for a reason.

One of my reasons for choosing a Monitor as my next reptile was for their known high levels of intelligence. Nimbus is smart, but I was looking for ‘next level’ smart. Fahrenheit has certainly proven himself to be more than that.

Watching them use their brains is incredible. But it comes with it’s fair share of potential problems.

That Mini-Dinosaur who now lives in your home can run mental circles around you. They’re always 3 steps ahead of you. And if they act like they aren’t, just know that’s somehow part of their plan.

If you upset them somehow understand revenge will be served and you won’t like it.

And definitely don’t forget they’ll be bigger, stronger and faster than you very quickly. Keep them happy, you’ll know very quickly if you haven’t. That brain is always thinking of ways to ruin your day so don’t ever think they won’t take full advantage of even the tiniest slip-up.

Fahrenheit is always curious of his surroundings, I can always see his brain working to process everything going on

2. Force Free methods really do work

Unfortunately many practices in the reptile world are still based on using fear and intimidation to work with the animal. Socialisation being the biggest one. It’s easy to use force and coercion to teach an animal learned helplessness, the result looking very similar to a well socialised animal but the reality being very different. Learning to effectively communicate with any animal you work with is vital, but many people put ego ahead of partnership and never actually bother to learn what their animal is trying to say. This unfortunately opens the door for misconceptions and unnecessary force and fear being used.

I’ve talked about using Force Free Methods and why reptiles deserve to be trained in this way before (the post can be found here), but Monitors specifically thrive with this method of training due to their high levels of intelligence.

The only issue with this? Fahrenheit now pretty much believes he can get away with murder as long as after he’s done being naughty he goes and sits back on his ‘Place’. He has no fear of me, and knows there’s never going to be a consequence to any silly or naughty behaviour which is brilliant! But he does take advantage of that sometimes when he really wants something(Like helping himself to the bug tubs when he thinks he deserves his third helping of dinner).

3. People who have Monitors definitely don’t have dogs

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A common thing people compare a tame Monitor to is a dog. As someone who lives, works with and trains both I question if anyone who says this actually does own a dog. They couldn’t be more different from one another!

I’ll look past the obvious differences or we’ll be here all day, but to list a few:

  • When my dog wants to come on the sofa it’s for a nice cwtch, when my Monitor wants to come on the sofa it’s either so he can eat my toes or reach the curtains and climb up them. I wish I could say it’s because Fahrenheit wanted a cuddle.
Fahrenheit relaxing on top of the curtain rail, his favourite spot to nap
  • Going back to point 1, although both dogs and Monitors are highly intelligent, the dogs never use that intelligence against me.
  • The dogs generally ask for things they’d like, the Monitor demands whatever he wants at any given moment. And he’s not afraid to use his teeth to get what he thinks he deserves. Tending to Fahrenheit’s silly demands is now my full-time occupation. Let’s be fair, what I’m really trying to say is congratulations on the new Lizard Butler job. Enjoy!

While I never really expected Fahrenheit to be like dog, even when tame, despite how many times I read otherwise, I don’t think he could be further from less comparable to them. He’s amazing just being the species he is, but for anyone looking to get one hoping it’ll become a giant scaly puppy… don’t.

4. How much I despise locust

I always thought I was alright with creepy crawlies. Growing up I was constantly looking in dark corners finding spiders, or out in the garden seeing what was hiding underneath rocks, and I’ll never forget standing in long grass hunting for crickets in the spring. So when I learnt Black Throats should eat a primarily invertebrate diet when they’re young, the thought of having to handle multiple bug species every day didn’t even cross my mind twice.

Until the first tub of locust arrived in the post…

The beady eyes, powerful legs and ferocious appetite mixed into one animal is a whole load of nope for me. Instantly I regretted getting a reptile that needed to eat these little devils to survive.

The roaches? Fine.

The snails? Love ‘em!

The worms are just fascinating to watch.

But the locust tub makes me shudder. I celebrate every time that it’s empty and dread every time the post arrives knowing a new one is arriving with it. I wish Fahrenheit refused to eat them so I could feel better and justify now buying them any more. But typically, they’re his favourite.

And, well, what the lizard wants, the lizard gets!

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