How Much Does an Asian Water Monitor Cost?

Last Updated on May 19, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Owning an exotic reptile like the Asian water monitor can be an exciting prospect for some reptile enthusiasts. However, these large lizards require substantial investments in housing, feeding, and care. This article examines the costs associated with purchasing and properly caring for an Asian water monitor as a pet.

The Asian water monitor, also known as the common water monitor, is one of the most popular monitor lizard species kept in captivity. Native to South and Southeastern Asia, these intelligent reptiles can grow over 6 feet long and require sizable enclosures with proper heating and humidity.

While their docile nature and unique appearance intrigue prospective owners, the reality of owning one of these exotic pets should be carefully considered.

How Much Does an Asian Water Monitor Cost?

The purchase price of an Asian water monitor ranges from $200 to $2,500 depending on age, color morph, and breeder reputation. Newly hatched Asian water monitor babies often cost less since they require extra care and have higher mortality rates. The costs continue to add up after the initial purchase.

You’ll also need a proper shipping container to have the monitor lizard safely delivered to you, which can cost $50 to $100. Any reputable exotic pet retailer will only ship the animal when you have confirmed all the necessary housing and care requirements are met.

Reptile permits and licenses are also required in most states and can cost between $25 and $200 depending on your location. Research the exotic pet ownership laws in your area thoroughly.

New England Reptile Store sells a 2023 CBB SOCIALIZED NERD Guru Line Asian Water Monitor for $1,100.00 and
a Black Dragon Asian Water Monitor for $2,500.00.

Big Apple Herp sells Sumatran Water Monitors for a flat rate of $129.95 for priority overnight delivery + packaging fee on live animal orders.

Reptile Pets Direct offers an Asian Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) for sale at various prices, including single baby water monitors for $159.99.

Housing and Habitat Costs

Asian water monitors need exceptionally large, secure housing called terrariums or vivariums. Glass enclosures are expensive, so most owners build custom wood and Plexiglass vivaria starting at around $1,000 for an 8′ x 3′ enclosure suitable for a juvenile monitor.

Adult water monitor enclosures are usually custom-built room-sized cages that can cost several thousand dollars.

These massive lizards require strong wood and Plexiglass to house them safely. The enclosure must also have proper heating and humidity levels, which requires expenditures for lighting and heating elements ($200 – $500), thermostats and hygrometers ($50+), and humidity systems like misters. The overall reptile habitat setup can easily cost $2,000 or more.

Substrate, furnishings, and landscaping are also required to mimic the species’ natural environment. Digging substrates like cypress mulch ($20 per 3-cubic-foot bag) help satisfy the monitor’s burrowing instincts.

Climbing and basking surfaces are also needed. Naturalistic accessories like branches, plants, and hides cost at least $300 – $500 to sufficiently equip the large enclosure.

Ongoing Food-Related Expenses

Asian water monitors are voracious eaters that require frequent feedings of properly-sized food items. Hatchlings may eat insects like crickets, worms, and roaches costing $20 – $40 per month.

However, they quickly shift to eating rodents like mice and rats, which cost significantly more. Purchasing 2-3 rats or mice per feeding ($60 – $100 monthly) is common for juveniles under 3 feet long. Adults require rabbits, poultry, or other large prey costing up to $200+ monthly.

You must purchase prey items in bulk from reptile food suppliers to meet the monitor’s needs. Investment in tools like game shears and meat grinders can also help provide proper food sizes and textures as the monitor grows.

Expect to spend at least $100 monthly and up to $500+ to feed an adult Asian water monitor properly.

Veterinary Costs and Upkeep

Reptile veterinarians are specialized, so check-ups and medical care can be expensive. Basic exams and parasite testing generally cost $200 – $400 annually.

Emergency medical care for issues like injury or infection averages $500 – $1,000 per incident. Proper preventative care and husbandry are crucial for avoiding huge veterinary bills.

You might also like our articles on the cost of a Gargoyle gecko, bearded dragon, or iguana.

General maintenance and cleaning supplies also accumulate costs. Disinfectants, deodorizers, substrates, and cleaning tools can cost $50 – $100 monthly.

The large enclosure must be spot-cleaned daily and deep cleaned regularly which requires significant time and effort. Hiring professional reptile-savvy cleaners costs around $100 per service.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Pet Asian Water MonitorAsian water monitors are often subject to strict regulations and permitting requirements as exotic reptile species. Each state approaches exotic pet ownership differently, so restrictions could limit your ability to legally own one.

Violating wildlife laws by illegally purchasing or improperly housing a monitor lizard can result in fines between $1,000 and $10,000 and confiscation of the animal.

There are also ethical concerns surrounding reptile ownership and the exotic pet trade’s environmental impacts. Removing wild-caught reptiles for the pet trade threatens vulnerable Asian ecosystems.

Purchasing captive-bred animals helps reduce this demand. Improper caging and diet leads to shortened lifespans, illness, and injury. Being a knowledgeable and responsible reptile owner is an ethical obligation.

Total Cost of Ownership

The total cost of properly owning an Asian water monitor reaches into the tens of thousands of dollars over its 20+ year lifespan. The large initial investments in secure housing and habitat supplies are significant, but the ongoing costs of proper feeding, healthcare, cleaning, and enrichment accumulate greatly year after year. Realistically, be prepared to spend between $5,000 – $10,000 yearly to meet this exotic pet’s complex needs.

For many reptile enthusiasts, the chance to care for such an impressive and intelligent lizard is worth the substantial financial commitment. However, novice owners often underestimate the expensive realities of meeting this exotic species’ welfare needs. Being honest about your ability to provide decades of appropriate care is key to being a responsible pet owner.

Alternative Pet Reptile Options

Other smaller monitor lizard species like savannah monitors and ackie monitors cost significantly less to house and feed, with most expenses under $1,000 annually. The initial purchase price of $50 – $300 is also lower for these dwarfed monitors that max out under 4 feet long.

Milder mannered lizards like bearded dragons and leopard geckos are some of the most affordable reptile pets, costing only $300 – $800 yearly depending on size. These starter reptiles are significantly cheaper and easier for novice owners to properly care for long-term.

Final Words

Caring for exotic pets like an Asian water monitor is a massive commitment requiring specialized knowledge and resources. Being a responsible pet owner means understanding your personal limitations and providing a good quality of life for the animal.

Rushing into purchasing trendy pets without doing sufficient research is irresponsible and often tragic for the animal.

If you cannot confidently provide the needed space, diet, enrichment, and veterinary care, choosing a more beginner-friendly reptile is wise.

There are ways to appreciate amazing wildlife like monitor lizards safely through activities like volunteering, donating, ecotourism, and supporting conservation organizations. Limiting the exotic pet trade helps protect these magnificent reptiles for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you have an Asian water monitor as a pet?

Yes, it is possible to have an Asian water monitor as a pet in some areas, but they are challenging reptiles only recommended for experts. These large, intelligent lizards require massive customized enclosures with proper heating, humidity, climbing areas, and substrate for burrowing.

Their complex dietary needs include whole prey items like rabbits and poultry. Novice reptile owners are likely not equipped to handle their advanced care and housing requirements.

Legally owning an Asian water monitor is also restricted in certain states and municipalities due to regulations on exotic pets. Responsible ownership involves seriously considering whether you can provide for all the monitor’s needs over its 20+ year lifespan.

How fast do Asian water monitors grow?

Asian water monitors grow exceptionally fast, especially as juveniles. Hatchlings emerge from the egg at about 6 to 8 inches long. Within the first year, they can reach 2 to 3 feet long while increasing about an inch per week during key growth phases.

Average adult sizes range between 4 and 6 feet long for males and 6 to 8 feet for females. However, Asian water monitors sometimes exceed 9 feet in length from head to tail. Proper feeding, humidity, temperatures, and enclosure size are key for supporting their rapid growth.

What happens if a water monitor bites you?

An Asian water monitor’s bite can cause moderate to severe injuries requiring immediate medical treatment. Their strong jaws deliver painful lacerations that often bleed heavily due to their dozens of sharp teeth and powerful bite force.

Serious bite wounds may require stitches, antibiotics, and tetanus shots to avoid the risk of dangerous bacterial infections. While not venomous, water monitors often have bacteria in their mouths that can enter wounds. Their sharp claws can also scratch or cut handlers.

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