Enjoying great popularity among reptile owners, the Ackie monitor lizard is a great choice for an exotic pet. If you’re contemplating on getting a reptile for a pet, the Ackie monitor may be a wise choice.
Attractive in colors, moderate-sized, and it is also very active and inquisitive, making it a greatly interesting and entertaining pet to care for in your home. Ackie monitor care is also not that complicated. Read on to find more about the Ackie Monitor and how to properly care for one.
Table of Contents
Ackie Monitor Facts
- Experience level: Beginner to Advanced
- Family: Varanidae
- Scientific name: Varanus acanthurus
- Average adult size: 24 to 48 inches (2 to 4 feet)
- Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
- Clutch Size: 7 to 10 eggs and up to 6 clutches per breeding season
- Egg Incubation Period: 12 to 15 weeks
- Food: mice, crickets, cockroaches, mealworms
- Average Temperature: Between 18°C to 27°C
- Humidity: 60 to 85%
- UVB lighting: Required
- Average price range: $250 – $400
- Conservation Status: Not listed
The scientific name of the Ackies Monitor is Varnus acanthurus but it comes by several other names. It is also called as a ridge-tailed monitor, spiny-tailed monitor, or Ackies dwarf monitor.
These belong to the Family- Varanidae and Genus- Varanus. The distribution area is around Australia. You can find these intriguing lizard species roaming the scrubland and arid areas of Western Australia, parts of Queensland, and Northern Territory.
For a pet, you can choose between a yellow Ackie monitor or a red Ackie monitor. They are very colorful. The shades run from yellowish to cream or dark brown to reddish. The patterns come in spots and stripes at the same time. They are indeed exotic and a great work of art.
The red Ackie monitor comes from the west while the yellow Ackie monitor comes from the east. Red Ackies are usually longer-tailed compared with the yellow Ackies. Red Ackies also grow bigger on average. They also have a unique cross and spotted head pattern.
Compared with a huge 10-foot Komodo dragon, these can indeed be called dwarf monitors. But they’re not really that small. The max size for Varanus acanthurus is 2.5ft, with most growing to 2 ft.
Ackie Monitor Lizard Care Sheet
Ackie Monitor Habitat
Ackie monitors love the humidity. You can find a yellow or red Ackie monitor hiding in humid burrows to take shelter from the hot temperatures of Australia. They also retreat into crevices for safety. They wedge themselves between rocks with ease.
Because of their active nature, your Ackie monitor needs a good amount of room. Prepare an enclosure that is wide enough for your reptile pet to roam or explore and to hunt and burrow.
The MINIMUM vivarium size you should be providing for these incredibly active animals is 6x3x3.
They need about 18 inches of substrate, so a 3ft tall enclosure is what you are really looking at. And coconut coir should be kept in low ratios to other ingredients such as organic, pesticide free topsoil, play sand, peat, orchid bark and other elements.
Plus spots with high amounts of leaves gives custodians places to hide as well as providing environmental enrichment for the animal.
Daily cleaning helps keep the enclosure free from bacteria, preventing disease and foul odor. Soap and hot water may be sufficient for routine cleaning. If there are tough spots and strong odor, you may need to use a specialized cleaning formula.
Have a toothbrush or scraper handy to help you clear the enclosure of debris and hardened dirt and feces. Always wash the accessories to remove waste and dirt build-up.
Choose a substrate that’s moist and thick, such as bark or cypress chip beddings, coconut beddings, and the like. Make your Ackie monitor feel right at home by setting up a deep substrate to make it easy for them to burrow in.
Maintaining a deep substrate also allows your pet reptile to choose how hot or cold it wants to feel. Deeper layers will be cooler while basking on top will give the warmth it needs. Mix in some soil or sand for bedding. This will make digging easier for your pet Ackie.
Temperature and Humidity
You need to prioritize hydration. It is key to your pet Ackie monitor’s health and survival. Having a fresh water bowl in the enclosure helps with that.
Your pet lizard can drink from and even soak in it. It also helps with humidity inside the enclosure. Further, you can mist the cage in the morning and afternoon to keep moisture levels. You should also keep the burrows moist since Ackie monitors love moist hideouts.
Maintain proper temperature by installing a heater as well as a thermostat that regulates the temperature. Doing this helps you control the environment and gives it a consistent temperature even during extreme heat or cold.
Basking spots in the upper 50°C-low 60°C (around 120F), and ambient hot sides in the low 40 °C’s, cool side never dipping below 28°C.
Your pet Ackie is a cold-blooded reptile so lighting is quite essential. It loves basking in the warmth and light of the sun. Having UVB lighting will meet that need. The UVB rays not only provides warmth, it also helps with the formation of Vitamin D3. You can schedule the lighting on 12-hour on and off cycle.
UVB is critical to these animals, they need a 12-14% UVB T5 bulb and different levels within the enclosure with which to bask. UVB lights do not provide any real heat except as a byproduct of being an electrical device so additional equipment will be needed to provide adequate heat.
Replicate the Ackie monitor’s natural surroundings by accessorizing its enclosure with familiar furnishing. Put in some wood planks, half logs, caves, moss beddings, fake plants, and more. Your pet reptile will enjoy exploring and hiding among them.
Ackie Monitor Feeding
As youngsters they can’t really be overfed, and it’s fine to leave prey items in with them. Feeder rodents should be as a treat extremely infrequently (every 1-2 months).
Their primary source of food should come from insects including crickets, cockroaches, mealworms and so on. These guys are insectivores through and through and opportunistic scavenging is a rarity in their environment.
Schedule giving your active pet lizard live insects for food. They’d be happy to run around and burn some energy as they go on a hunt. Moderate-sized feeding may be done daily since Ackies are highly active and tend to metabolize food quickly.
Temperament and Handling
Ackies monitors are naturally curious and have good temperaments in general. However, they may need time to adjust to and feel comfortable with their new surroundings.
They may be flighty in the beginning so allow your pet reptile to get settled first in the enclosure before you start handling it. Establish the trust with regular feeding and a safe environment, then begin to handle your Ackie monitor for just a few minutes in a day.
It’s important not to spook or make it feel insecure as this can be stressful for your Ackie monitor lizard. Over time, you’ll find that these are quite gentle reptiles.
With proper care and housing, the Ackie monitor can live between 15 and 20 years. Pet owners should ensure a controlled environment with appropriate temperature and humidity levels. Making sure of that promotes a safe, healthy, and long life for your red or yellow Ackie monitor.
Common Health Concerns (Issues/Solutions)
A health concern for captive red or yellow Ackie monitors is Metabolic Bone Disease. That’s why UVB lighting is recommended by many experts plus calcium supplementation.
Pricing and Availability
Breeders have great successes in breeding Ackie monitor lizards. They are available outside of Australia. Europe is known to have breeders selling captive bred Ackies since the 90s.
Prices vary. It may cost you anywhere between $250 to $400 depending on the source and the season. A red Ackie monitor may cost you more since they can be larger with longer tails compared to yellow ones. Check vets and reputable breeders for purchase information in your particular area.
There is currently no threat nor any conservation concerns for Ackie monitors. Successful captive breeding has decreased the need for traders and pet collectors to hunt them in the wild.
The Ackie monitor makes a best pet for the experienced handler, and if you get them young, the adjustment and bonding period tends to be shorter. To avoid stressing your pet monitor lizard, remember to keep handling times few and short especially after your pet Ackie has newly arrived. Most grow up friendly, tame, and playful with proper care.
For more on finding a good pet monitor, check our guide for the best pet monitor lizards.