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Yellow Ackies(V. Acanthuras Brochyuras) and Red Ackies(V. Acanthuras) Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for Dwarf Monitors

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.60    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 03/12/2005

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Sub Category:

Dwarf Monitors

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Years Experience:

3 to 5 Years


Yellow Ackies(V. Acanthuras Brochyuras) and Red Ackies(V. Acanthuras)

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

V. a. acanthuras, V. a. brochyuras, V. a. insulanicus.

Sexing and Characteristics:

Ackies are extremely easy to sex, males have clusters of spiny scales on either side of their vent. Ackies usually hover around 2 feet at adulthood, females are usually slightly smaller. There have been rumors of wild ackies reaching almost 1 meter (39 inches) in length! But the largest animals I have herd of in captivity were about 28 inches.

Ackie monitors are usually calmer than most other species of varanids, and very active. If an ackie is very lethargic than there is a problem. Ackie monitors are also known as Ridge tailed Goannas (aussie for monitor) or Spiney Tailed Goannas. Ackie monitors live in Australia, where they live in rocky out croppings, and (it has been said) spinifex grass. The yellow ackie is the most arboreal of the complex (although the complex is hardly arboreal). They have been seen in trees many times, by Australian herpetologists. They also live in their burrows, which measure around 0.5 meters squared in area, and are only about 20 cm deep. Ackie monitors are members of the sub genus odatria, or dwarf monitors.

Mostly Active During:


Substrate and Water Needs:

I use gardenplus top soil from Lowes, it is extremely workable. It holds burrows nicely and holds moisture nicely to. I have it about 10 inches deep.

I give my ackie part of a stack (stacked boards used to simulate rock crevices, developed by the "godfather" of modern monitor husbandry Frank Retes of GoannaRanch in Tucson Arizona) buried to ive a nice strong base to the burrow. It is placed in the corner of the enclosure. Monitors will usually never burrow in the center of the enclosure. Having a deep substrate is crucial for the health and well being of your ackie.

I give mine a medium sized water bowl. Make sure it is fresh everyday as they will dirty it up really fast.

Lighting and UVB:

No so called "special" bulbs required. I use a 45 watt outdoor flood lights.

Temperatures and Humidity:

Basking-130-140 is a good basking spot keep in mind that those are surface temps not air temps. Make sure that the hot spot is only the length of the monitors SVL.

warm side-95

cool side-78-83

Humidity-I keep my cage around 55% humidity.

Heating and Equipment:

NO HEAT PADS OR HOT ROCKS! The lizard will dig to the bottom of the cage, and burn itself. Hot rocks are just plane dangerous. Get a digital thermometer that has a humidity reader and a min/max setting. I also highly recommend the use of an infrared temp gun, like sells.

Caging Provided:

I am building a cage (3x2x2) for my one male. In custom cages make sure to build the door high enough to allow for a deep substrate. A pair can be housed in a 4x2x2 cage, for each additional lizard I recommend adding an additional 1 1/2-2 square feet of floor space. Make sure the cage has little ventilation.



Description of Diet:

I feed crickets, dusted crickets, mealworms, superworms, and ground turkey. I boil the ground turkey, and only feed it maybe once every two months. I feed dusted crickets every other cricket feeding, to adults. For adults I feed superworms two-three times a week. For juvies I would dust every feeding (at least 1/4 of the amount given) with a calcium power, and dust with a vitamin powder two times a week. I would feed juvies crickets twice a day. And when feeding mealworms I would feed 1 one time a day.

I have recently started feeding fuzzies once a week and cut down on the amount of crickets and dustings.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

I would use miner-all or the rep-cal products. Usage was explained in diet description.


Another care sheet

Varanus Acanthuras- Ackie Monitor

Varanus acanthuras acanthuras (red ackie), Varanus acanthuras brochyuras (yellow ackie), and Varanus acanthuras insulanicus are the three known members of the acanhuras complex. They belong to the sub genus odatria (dwarf monitors), which average from sizes of 8 inches to about 3 feet. Most weigh between 100-350 grams, but some weigh about 20-30 grams. Other monitors in the sub genus odatria are the tristis complex (black headed, an freckled monitors), varanus pilarensis (pilbara rock monitor, varanus timorensis (timor monitor), and the list goes on. Varanus tmorensis, and the prasinus complex are the only known odatria to be found out side of Australia.

Ackies usually grow to about 24-28 inches, although there have been rumors of big 1 meter (39 inches) long Ackies. Ackies are also known as ridge tailed goannas and spiny tailed goannas. They do posses a spined tail, actually the first time I saw an ackie I was surprised at how spiny the tail actually was. Their spiny tail is used to block the entrance to their burrows which usually have an area of 0.5 meters sq. (19.5 inches) and an average depth of only about 8-9 inches deep. They are known to live on rocky out croppings in Australia (Australia is the only place they are found, in the wild at least) and they may possibly live in spenifex grasses. Where numerous other reptiles (including blue tongue skinks), insects, and rodents live. Red ackies are (as you guessed) red in color with vibrant yellow ocelli (spots) running down their backs. Yellow aackies are obviously yellow. They have dark yellow to red-orange ocelli.

Ackies are usually rather calm in the sense that they will usually not bite in captivity. All Ackies sold in the pet trade are CBB because they are from Australia, where it is illegal to export live animals. And since ackie are CBB that makes them a wonderful choice for an entry level monitor. Their cost range is from 175$-350$+ reds being more expensive than the yellows. They are also very energetic, all the attitude and energy of an Argus monitor packed into a smaller package. The rest of this “care sheet” is devoted to explaining the captive husbandry techniques that I use with my Ackie monitor.

Housing & lighting/heating

For housing an Ackie monitor I would recommend a 3x2x2 (LWH) enclosure for a single adult. A 4x2x2 (LWH) enclosure can hold a trio for each additional animal I recommend adding an extra 1 ½- 2 square feet of floor space. For baby ackies a 20 gallon long enclosure with a good top-soil substrate that is at least 4 inches deep (for babies). Make sure to cover atleast ¾ of the screen top of the 20 gal.

Some Words on this Species:

When the monitors reach at least 12 inches you can move them into their permanent enclosures. I highly recommend building a custom enclosure, with LITTLE ventilation. No open screen doors, tops, sides, etc. screen releases heat and humidity very, very fast. My enclosure is built out of ¾ inch ply wood that is coated in 5 coats of oil based polyurethane (you can use water based polyurethane but it does not protect for as long as an oil based polyurethane would) and sealed at the seems with GE silicone. I have sliding glass doors on the enclosure. Make sure the doors are at least 12 inches above the bottom of the cage so you can allow for a deep substrate. I have the basking light mounted on the ceiling of the cage with a 2 foot shop fluorescent fixture on the ceiling to (just to light the cage up), make sure the monitor can’t come in contact with the light. Also screwing on boards of FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymer) won’t hurt that stuff is incredibly strong.

I use exclusively 45 watt out door flood lights, and a 2 foot regular fluorescent tube (again just to light the cage up. No need for the so-called “special” UVB bulbs, in my opinion they are just rip-offs

I have my basking temperature at 130-140 degrees F (keep in mind those are surface temperatures NOT air temperatures. I have seen basking spots that had hot spots of up to 200 degrees F (again these are SURFACE temperatures). The ambient temp of my enclosure is about 75-85 F degrees. It is very important to offer a hot basking spot a warm side of the enclosure that is about 90 degrees F and a cool side of about 75 degrees F. I recommend leaving the lights on 24/7, but having photoperiods really won’t hurt from my experience. Humidity, most people think: Australia, desert, dry, not humid. Wrong Australia has about 55-60% humidity, so you should to for you ackie.

DO NOT use those stupid hot rocks they are dangerous for your reptile. Also I would advise NOT using heatpads because these lizards do dig to the bottom of their enclosures and will burn themselves.


One of the most overlooked aspects of monitor keeping (along with quarantining, and proper nutrition, and of course proper husbandry), at least by beginners to the hobby of monitors. DO NOT use bark, newspaper, or sand (at least 100% sand). Use good old dirt. If you collect pesticide free soil from outside then that is great. Dirt from creek beds is especially good for monitors. Make sure you sift the dirt in order to remove any rocks, bugs, twigs, etc. Now of you can’t collect dirt from outdoors than my number 1 choice would be decomposed granite. Not too coarse but not too fine either. Decomposed granite is definitately one of the BEST substrates to use for monitors. My number 2 choice would be a mixture of non-
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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