ARCHIE THE SAVANNAH MONITOR
Learn about our namesake and why Archie's story influenced
us to start an educational organization and reptile rescue
In summer 2017, a Facebook post made its way across Wisconsin reptile groups, seeking to rehome a savannah monitor (Varanus exanthematicus). After an excessive number of tags, shares, and reposts, Raija and her mother, Kim, reached out to Archie's owner to see how they could help.
As soon as accommodations were made, Archie was lovingly adopted into his new home. Deemed "aggressive and non-handleable" by his previous home, it was expected that he would never make a presence at public events. A change in husbandry quickly moved Archie's demeanor for the better, revealing his true personality as a "big, sociable lizard."
Inflicted with numerous health issues, Archie unfortunately met his early fate on March 24, 2018, having passed in the arms of his new family. Only three years old at the time of his passing, this cut his life to a fraction of what it should have been.
When retrieved from his previous owner, Archie weighed a hefty 13lbs, twice as much as an ideal weight. Due to a poor diet and inadequate space to exercise, Archie had no outlet to weight down the excess fat. His body was forced to grow at an incredible rate, making him far larger than any other 3-year-old savannah monitor.
Having been fed a strict diet of chicken gizzards for a majority of his life, Archie's poor eating habits ultimately ended his life. A necropsy was preformed, indicating precisely what damage had been done.
Archie suffered from renal and visceral gout, a disease of the kidneys. This led to cardiovascular disease. His organs were surrounded by tophi (a deposit of crystalline uric acid and other substances at the surface of joints, in skin or cartilage) and excessive amounts of fat. This, topped with an underdeveloped immune system, all factored in to why he passed at such a young age.
Savannah monitors are insectivores, meaning that their diet primarily consists of insect protein. Archie's previous owner fed him 10lbs of chicken gizzards every week, and in turn, his body simply could not process that. Fat accumulated in large amounts, pushing organs up and forward. This made Archie's breathing labored and difficult for him to move.
Pictured here are two of Archie's radiographs. His fat pads are easily identified on either side of his body. On both images, his head is facing the right. We use these radiographs to teach about what damage improper diet & husbandry can do to an animal and how we can better our education & care.
In memory of Archie, we use his story to educate about proper herpetological husbandry. Education is knowledge, and knowledge is the key to a happy animal. By properly informing others before they receive a new pet, we can prevent mistreatment and aid in your animal's happiness.
We want these animals to do more than just survive - we want them to thrive.
Archie's Angels is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization,
here to help you and your animals.