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Is a Water Monitor Safe Around Your Child? (and your Pets?)

With the growing trend of caring for water monitors in captivity, people have asked if they they are safe around their family, in particular, their children. As a father this interested me to look into this. Let me share my findings with you.

Is a Water Monitor Safe Around Your Child? No, I personally would not chance it. Water Monitors are not as aggressive as other Monitors in their Genus, but I would not take the chance. They are big lizards with sharp claws and teeth, that have the potential to harm, even if they may appear to be harmless.

So, now you now my thoughts on the matter, let me hit you with some facts so you can make an educated decision if you think they are safe around your family.

What is a water monitor lizard?

I’m going to give you a little background on the water monitor lizard, so that you could understand what they are about. Their scientific name is “Varanus Salvator”, genus is Varanus.  They are part of the Varanidae family.

The they have a really wide range of natural habitat locations, ranging from the Philippines right to India. So they are available in many parts of the world.

An interesting fact about the water monitor lizard is that they relocated and colonized the island of Krakatoa back in 1889. This was after it was virtually destroyed by a massive volcano eruption. Which is a very good display of their adaptability.

Is the water monitor naturally aggressive?

Monitor lizards in general, as a Genus of lizards, can be very aggressive. There have been rumours of attacks on humans, but to be honest I struggled to find any real references of any. In fact in Lumpini Park, located in Thailand, where they keep a selection of water monitor lizards.

It is reported that they are actually quite a respectful and trustworthy specie. Reports from visitors even go as far as to say, if a human approaches them they are more likely to run away and escape into the water to avoid Confrontation rather than standing up to a human being.

However, you should be cautious with them, due to their large size and potential to cause damage.

Will A Water Monitor Eat Your Pet?

In the next section you will see how many different things a water monitor eats. If your pet falls into any of those categories, yes it will. To be honest, if your pet is smaller than the water monitor, which is likely based on their size, then your pet is likely to get eaten by it. Simple as that really.

What does a Water Monitor actually eat?

So in this section I’m going to explain some of the wide variety of foods that these water monitor lizards consume. They are carnivorous lizards, meaning meat is their main focus.

They do eat a large variety of different things, such as:

  • Rodents
  • Birds
  • Spiders
  • Insects

Appetite For Humans & Other Lizards?

They are even known to have eaten human corpses and even other lizards, yes I did just say that! Although I do mention that there has been human corpses consumed by the water monitor, it is not necessarily saying that they have actually killed the humans.

They have consumed them, but it’s mainly eaten the human corpse that have been discovered. However, quite understandably, any news like this causes concerns, especially when one considers mixing them with their family.

Young Water Monitors Diet

When it comes to young water monitor lizards the best thing to feed them is insects or small mice. While they are growing, it is important to keep them supplemented with calcium, to keep their bones growing strong.

This also maintains good growth. The best way to do this is to dust the insects that they consume with a reputable calcium supplement (Click to see price on Amazon), that you can buy from your local pet store or online.

Do people keep water monitor lizards in captivity?

I’m going to discuss if people really keep these water monitor lizard in captivity. The short answer is yes, they do. Even though they are a relatively large lizard. They are not the most popular lizard to be kept in captivity. This is because of their sheer size, but it is definitely possible and something that is happening right now.

Bare in mind that these lizards require an advanced level lizard keeper to care for them. Not just this but the resources required to keep them happy. This includes their diet, upkeep, maintenance and enough physical space for them to feel comfortable.

So how big is a water monitor lizard?

Water monitor lizards are one of the the longest monitors. However they come in third place after the Komodo dragon and the crocodile monitor. The longest known Water Monitor was recorded at 10 and a half feet!

And this is located in Sri Lanka. However that is quite a rare exception and hence the reason why it is noted a world record.

Rapid Growth Rate

The water monitor has a really rapid growth rate. You can expect a baby monitor, once his hatched, to start off at approximately 10 inches long. But within just one year they can make massive growth, up to a few feet in length, which is pretty impressive.

Male vs Female Growth

The male and female water monitor lizard have quite a substantial difference in size. The male easily outgrows the female by a couple of feet. To put this into perspective, you can expect the male monitor lizard to grow up to 8 feet in length. The female on the other hand would probably max out at approximately 6 ft.

If we take the Malaysian water monitor lizard for example, it has a rather long elongated neck, strong body and strong legs, so it is quite a strong and long lizard.

Can water monitors inject venom?

There is often some debate as to whether water monitors can or can’t inflict venom on their human victims. The reality is, yes they can do this. However the venom is not believed to be fatal and is quite a mild effect. In addition to this, they also have the ability to infect you with some harmful bacteria.

Related Questions:

How long can a water monitor hold its breath? Up to 30 minutes. The water monitor is actually semi-aquatic. Therefore it can hold its breath under water for a long time. Remember it actually spends a lot of time in the water so it needs these skills.

Are monitor lizards endangered? No, but nearly all of them are registered under the Convention on International trade, which means they are being monitored because their numbers are a cause for concern.

Do monitor lizards carry salmonella? Yes, they have been known to carry a rare strain called S. poana. Salmonella is quite a serious sickness and if passed on to a family member it can be a serious health issue.

Is a Nile Monitor a good pet? No, The Nile Monitor is known to be very aggressive and there have been reports of people being attacked and killed by them. They are not an ideal pet at all and should be treated with extreme caution.


Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.