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Duration:07:22
Uploaded:2020-07-02
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Jade the Savanna Monitor needed a new custom built enclosure, so we got creative and built a space specifically for her. Check out how much she's grown and how she likes her new bioactive enclosure!

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders!

I’m Jessi, and this is Jade the Savannah monitor. Jade has gotten so big over the last year that I wanted to give you an update on her and show off what we’ve been doing to keep her healthy and happy! [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC].

So for the last few months, it’s been both slower and busier than it normally would be. It’s been slower because all of our spring public presentations were cancelled or rescheduled due to the pandemic. But it’s been busier because we had to close up the facility to all outside help, including volunteers, interns, and most of our employees were working remotely.

Which left Augusto and me to care for all the animals ourselves, which is… a lot! But even though we had a ton of work on our plates, we found the time to get so many needed improvement projects done. And one of those projects was building a new enclosure for this big girl!

Now I want to show off her new enclosure, but I’d like to get her down and moving around because that’s really what she likes. The last time I showed Jade off on camera was on a walk outside, and she was still able to wiggle out of her harness. But she’s grown so much that now she fits almost perfectly!

Alright, Jade! Let's get your adventure on! Look at her go! [LAUGHS] Go, Jade, go!

Look at her! She’s so strong. And she's so fast!

Ok, so I’m pretty proud of Jade's new home because it’s been like 2 months in the making. To give a little background on it, we couldn’t just purchase a huge enclosure from a reptile specialty company because we have limited space in our Reptile Room, and the piece needed to be custom built. It’s also really expensive to buy large pre-made enclosures, and since we’re on a tight budget,.

I was happy to put in most of the work myself so we could save on the total cost. I did ask for help with the construction of the wood frame, so my brother and I sat down and created the design. The enclosure needed to fit into our Reptile Room and still leave space for the other enclosures, and we also needed to keep a little nook for our cockroach colony and our broom and mop.

We’re literally using every inch of space that we have available! And we also made plans for a few other enclosures, but that’s a story for another time. When everything was accounted for, we cut and put all the pieces together and made it ready for the sealant.

I used Pond Shield on the inside to make it waterproof. This is a kind of epoxy paint that creates a strong barrier to prevent water or feces from getting into the wood. This is super important because Savannah monitors have really sharp claws and they like to burrow, so I’m expecting her to eventually dig all the way down to the bottom.

Next I used Great Stuff foam to make a textured background. I didn’t want to just have a big open area on the bottom, so the plan was to create places for Jade to climb and utilize as much of the space as possible. To do that, I added branches and pot holders for plants.

Then we carved the foam into the shapes we wanted and applied a layer of silicone and covered it in clay and soil for a more natural look. Next up was the drainage layer and substrate. I wanted her home to be bioactive with nutrient rich soil, detritivores like isopods and worms, and living plants.

I also wanted to recreate her natural habitat as much as possible, so I used several layers of different kinds of soil. On half of the bottom I put a layer of moisture retaining substrates that would hopefully hold enough moisture for the detritivores to live happily. Then I covered everything with a thick layer of densely packed clay to prevent Jade from easily digging into the soft humid layer.

Then I covered the hard clay with a mixture of loose clay, topsoil, sand, and ground coconut. This was covered by a top layer of moss, leaves, and other organic material like thick plant stems. And finally, I added in some living plants that will hopefully survive.

Jade’s heavy dinosaur body and razor sharp claws. There’s a good chance she’ll destroy the plants, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that a few will survive and grow in the more protected areas. For lighting, I have a high quality UV light for Jade and a 6500 LED light for the plants.

And about once a week I add more water to the substrate to keep the very bottom nice for the isopods living in the soil. Now heating was another consideration, and I was concerned about adding in a ceramic heat emitter due to the space I had. So I held off making that decision until everything was set up and I could see what the true temperature would be using my heat gun.

Since the Reptile Room is kept at about 80-85 °F during the day, the light strip at the top heats the top branch basking area to 120 °F, and this shelf is 105 °F. The rest of the enclosure is 85-87 °F. And at night the temperature drops to between 75-80 °F.

So everything worked out perfectly, and after a month of letting the plants take root and the detritivore colonies to build up, it was time to let Jade explore her new space! She was excited to go in, and then she got really still. I think she was just taking everything in.

There are a lot of new smells in here, and it’s the first time she’s had a new space to investigate since she came to Animal Wonders over a year ago. Now that she's a little more comfortable in her new home, she’s been using the space in all kinds of creative ways. Overall, I’m really happy with Jade’s new home!

I hope she enjoys all the different features I built in for her, and hopefully it keeps her happy for years to come. And now it’s time to get this girl back home! She’s still challenging to handle, so I wear gloves to protect myself from her sharp claws and powerful bite.

Now, not all Savannah monitors are as feisty as Jade is, and there’s a few reasons why she’s so active and intense to handle. The first reason is because she’s not overweight. Many Savannah monitors are slower and act quite docile because they’re overfed on an improper diet of mostly rodents.

In the wild, these monitors eat large amounts of insects, and they’re very quick, active, and defensive. The second reason Jade’s behavior is like this is because she’s properly heated. Savannah monitors need temperatures of up to 120 °F to be their healthiest, and many aren’t kept hot enough, so they’re always a bit sluggish because they’re not at their best.

And the third reason Jade is so feisty sometimes is because she came into the world with this personality, and she hasn’t been handled as much as she could have been. The reason is because Jade’s previous enclosure was located too high for easy access, and as she grew bigger, stronger, and smarter, she made it very challenging to get her out for handling and training sessions. She would get very food focused and bite anything that came into her space.

So while I did get her out, it wasn’t as often as I would have liked. Which is another reason why I’m just so excited that she’s moved into her new enclosure so I can interact with her much easier and we can rebuild our relationship. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to see how big Jade has gotten and how we’re working hard to keep her happy and healthy.

If you’d like to keep learning about animals and how we’re caring for the other 90 animals at Animal Wonders, be sure to subscribe and I’ll see you next week! Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].