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Ackie monitor Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for Monitors

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.31    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 04/03/2005

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Years Experience:

5 to 10 Years


Ackie monitor

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

All monitors have the same basic needs, any good literature about monitors is good for you. Even if you don’t own an ackie.

Care Sheet Information:

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 16-28 (yellows usually being larger) inches, although there have been rumors of 1 meter (39 inches) long yellow 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 passably 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 at least ¾ of the screen top of the 20 gal. When the monitors read 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 a modified 40 gal. breeder aquarium I have a solid ½ ply wood top with 1/8 inch holes drilled in it for ventilation and the basking light mounted inside.

I use exclusively 45 watt out door flood lights, and 50 watt floods. No need for the so-called “special” UVB bulbs, 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- about 55% humidity.

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 gardenplus top-soil from Lowes. Holds moisture and burrows wonderfully. And is about $1.19 a 40 lb. bag.

Cage furniture

Some people have these elaborate beautiful set-ups for their monitors, but guess what, 9 times out of 10 these enclosure do no good what so ever for the monitor. I have 8 inches of dirt. And a terra cota flower pot base to serve as a hide spot and basking platform. You don’t need any of those fancy hide spots that cost 20 bucks they don’t make the animal feel safe. Remember keep it simple.

Feeding and nutrition

I feed crickets, (I am currently thinking about switching to lobster roaches), and F/T hoppers. There is no such thing as a feeding schedule for reptiles, I offer food every day (1-2 hoppers 1 time a week), sometimes my monitor will eat sometimes he won’t he does what he wants.

Some words on Varanus Acnthuras as a captive

Ackies are by far the best monitors for novice to advanced keepers. They are plain fun to keep. I can say forget pretty much everything you have read about any monitor, because it is probably a bunch of bull anyway. Also remember that size does’t matter when keeping monitors, think to your self before you buy that Black throat monitor, can I really house a 6 foot lizard? Can I provide the proper food? Or should I look at a monitor that is more realistic and economical to me?

Here are some great monitor sites-

some books to read-
The truth about varanus exanthematicus by D. Bennet and R. Thakoordyal
The natural history and captive husbandry of monitors by D. Bennet
The biology of varanids by King & Green
Nile Monitors by Robert Foast
and anything by Walter Auffenburg

some books NOT to read-
Savanna & Grassland monitors
Monitors and Tegus
Popular monitor and tegu species

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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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