Sustainability guide to monitor lizards in wildlife trade

To assist anybody who cares, monitor lizards are ranked according to sustainability in the pet trade.

greenhalf.jpg The green species are widely available from captive bred sources; if you keep pairs of these animals you have a good chance of breeding them if you treat them right, and if you just want a pet you have the satisfaction of knowing that they have not been taken from the wild.


yellow100.jpg  The yellow species are almost always taken from the wild. They are very occasionally bred in captivity and captive bred stock is very difficult to find. These species inhabit very large areas and there are no reasons to suppose that the wildlife trade is having a detrimental impact on their global populations because 1) numbers harvested for wildlife trade are relatively small or 2) because populations are known to be large and robust. African and Asian species tend also to be harvested for meat or leather, in much larger numbers than are taken for the pet trade. Buying these species will not have any significant effect on wild populations.




The orange species have a restricted geographical range or specific habitat preferences. They are uncommon in the leather trade but some species are popular in the wildlife trade. Theses species are very rarely bred in captivity and almost impossible to find as captive bred stock. Unless you have experience of breeding monitor lizards and want to attempt to breed the se species in captivity, you should avoid them.



red100.jpg The red species are restricted to small islands or habitats on larger island that have been reduced to fragmented remnants. They do not feature in leather trade but they are popular and expensive in the wildlife trade. The distribution, ecology and population status of almost all of these species is very poorly understood. These species very rarely reproduce in captivity and so captive bred stock is almost impossible to find. However many wild sourced animals of many species are exported and marketed as captive bred, captive farmed or ranched specimens. These claims are almost invariably false. Most individuals entering the pet trade die  after a very short time, either because they succumb during transport or because they are very difficult to keep in captivity. With the exception of the frugivorous monitor lizards V. olivaceus and V. bitatawa, these species may be at direct risk of extirpation and extinction as a result of over harvesting by wildlife trade.


Join the fight to end the trade in small island endemic monitor lizards