Varanus rudicollis is a medium to large, semi-arboreal monitor lizard. The rough-necked monitor can be easily recognized by large pointed scales adorning the necks of adults.

Baby and juvenile Varanus rudicollis are primarily black in color, with a peppering of bright yellow, and sometimes even blue, spots and bands. As they mature, the stark colors gradually disappear. Adults are almost entirely black, with some greyish coloring reminiscent of their juvenile patterning.

  • Scientific name : Varanus rudicollis
  • Distribution : South Burma, S Thailand, West Malaysia, Rhio Archipelago, Indonesia (Sumatra, Bangka, Borneo)
  • Average Size : 1.1 m (3.6 ft)
  • Life Span : 15 years or more
  • Difficulty : Advanced


Roughneck monitors require a tall enclosure as well as a good area of floor space so the minimum dimensions of 1.8 x 2.1 x 0.9 (H x L x W) meters (6 x 7 x 3 feet) should suffice.
Use branches high up plus walls of usable climbable materials as a bonus. They tend to spend the early hours up high then forage a lot of the time at ground level for most of the day retiring up high as daylight ends.

Hide box

These are used by them along with the foliage. If you offer a hide fairly high up along with the ground hides, it will be definitely utilized by them. You can use cork tubes, large bird boxes for the elevated positions as hides.


As Varanus rudicollis require a good decent humidity of around 80% a fairly deep substrate that holds moisture is a must. I personally prefer bioactive substrate. I use a mix of soil/coir plus sand usually around 70/30. Then I place a leaf litter on top. The bugs in the substrate break down any waste or dropped food items.

Lighting – Heating

Heat wise you obviously need a decent heat gradient from high to a cooler area and this is usually attained using the basking bulbs. You will need to have around 60 °C (140 °F) under them and away from them areas down to 30 °C (86 °F) with night time ambient temperatures around 29 °C (84 °F). You can use thermotubes ran through a good thermostat.
I provide UV lighting 10 hours per day. This plus the basking bulbs covers the necessary temperature levels.


A decent sized water container that allows them to soak in is needed and as they will usually defecate in the water this needs to be changed daily.


I find this very very important to the good general health of rough neck monitors and needs to be in my opinion a minimum of 80%.


Roughnecks require a fair amount of feeder insects either gut-loaded or dusted with a decent calcium/vitamin powder. As they grow you can start adding whole prey like quail chicks, mice, rats pups but try to avoid rats with fur as the fur is usually very coarse and un-digestible.
I feed my youngsters 6 out of 7 days a week and my adults 3-4 days per week. I offer gut-loaded insects 4 times per week to my youngsters and 2-3 times per week to my adults.


Handling wise they are not too bad once settled in but they have needle sharp claws which makes them uncomfortable to handle. Most tend not to bite but will hiss like steam trains.


Again as they will defecate in the water it is fairly easy to clean and replace plus some spot cleaning and the use of a bioactive substrate keeps the enclosure right.


Roughnecks will usually shed in pieces. If you provide the proper humidity there are usually no problems.

Potential Health Problems

Usually these tend to be heat or humidity related so as long as the heating and humidity are kept right they are pretty robust as adults but can be fairly delicate as youngsters.


Steve Foo RN

The information contained in this care sheet reflect the opinions and methods of the mentioned breeder, based on their expertise and long-established experience.