Ackie Monitor: A Fascinating Reptilian Companion

Ackie monitors (Varanus acanthurus) have captured the attention of reptile enthusiasts with their captivating appearance, inquisitive nature, and unique behaviors. These small to medium-sized monitor lizards, also known as spiny-tailed monitors, are native to the arid regions of Australia. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of ackie monitors as pets, covering their characteristics, housing requirements, feeding habits, handling and care tips, common health issues, and more. Whether you are a seasoned reptile keeper or considering bringing an ackie monitor into your life, this article will provide you with valuable insights to ensure the well-being and enjoyment of these fascinating reptilian companions.

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Introduction to Ackie Monitors

Ackie monitors, scientifically known as Varanus acanthurus, are diurnal lizards native to the arid regions of Australia. They are a species complex, consisting of multiple subspecies with slight variations in appearance and distribution. Ackie monitors are highly adaptable and have become increasingly popular among reptile enthusiasts due to their manageable size, unique appearance, and engaging behaviors.

Ackie Monitors as Pets

Unique Characteristics and Appearance

Ackie monitors have a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other reptiles. They possess a stocky build, muscular limbs, and a spiky tail that serves as a defense mechanism. Their coloration ranges from vibrant oranges and reds to more muted yellows and browns, allowing them to blend into their arid surroundings.

Popular Ackie Monitor Species

Several subspecies of ackie monitors are commonly kept as pets, including the Red Ackie (Varanus acanthurus acanthurus) and the Yellow Ackie (Varanus acanthurus brachyurus). Each subspecies has its own unique characteristics and geographic distribution.

Housing and Enclosure Setup

Suitable Enclosure Size

Providing an appropriate enclosure is crucial for the health and well-being of ackie monitors. Due to their active nature, a spacious enclosure is essential. For a single adult ackie monitor, a minimum enclosure size of 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 2 feet tall (120x60x60 cm) is recommended. Larger enclosures are preferable if housing multiple individuals.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels is vital for the overall health and thriving of ackie monitors. The temperature gradient within the enclosure should range from 90°F (32°C) at the basking spot to 75°F (24°C) on the cooler end. The humidity levels should be kept between 40% and 60% to mimic their natural arid habitat.

ackie monitor

Substrate and Decor Options

Choosing the Right Substrate

Selecting the appropriate substrate is essential for the well-being of ackie monitors. Options such as a mixture of sand and soil, reptile-safe cypress mulch, or a bioactive substrate blend work well. Avoid substrates that can cause impaction, such as loose sand or small particles.

Providing Hiding Spots and Climbing Structures

Ackie monitors require a variety of hiding spots and climbing structures within their enclosure. Incorporate rocks, logs, and branches to create basking areas, climbing opportunities, and hiding spots. Live or artificial plants can also be added to provide visual barriers and enrichment.

Feeding and Diet

Carnivorous Nature

Ackie monitors are carnivorous reptiles with a diet primarily consisting of small invertebrates and occasionally small vertebrates. In captivity, their diet can include appropriately sized insects, such as crickets, roaches, mealworms, and occasionally pinky mice.

Offering a Varied Diet

To ensure a balanced diet, it is important to offer a variety of prey items to ackie monitors. This helps provide essential nutrients and prevents nutritional deficiencies. Dusting prey items with calcium and multivitamin supplements is also necessary to support their growth and overall health.

Handling and Care

Proper Handling Techniques

When handling ackie monitors, it is crucial to approach them with caution and respect their natural behaviors. Allow them to become accustomed to your presence and handle them gently, supporting their body at all times. Remember to wash your hands before and after handling to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Routine Health Checks

Regularly observe your ackie monitor for any signs of illness or injury. Look out for changes in appetite, behavior, or appearance. If you notice anything unusual, consult with a reptile veterinarian who has experience with monitor lizards.

Common Health Issues

While ackie monitors are generally hardy reptiles, they can still experience certain health issues. Some common health concerns include respiratory infections, parasites, and metabolic bone disease. Maintaining proper husbandry, providing a balanced diet, and regular health checks can help prevent these issues.

Tips for Creating a Happy and Healthy Environment

To ensure the happiness and well-being of your ackie monitor, consider the following tips:

  1. Provide a spacious and enriched enclosure with appropriate temperature and humidity levels.
  2. Use suitable substrates and provide climbing structures and hiding spots.
  3. Offer a varied diet of appropriately sized prey items, including insects and occasional small vertebrates.
  4. Practice proper handling techniques and allow your ackie monitor to acclimate to your presence.
  5. Schedule regular health checks with a reptile veterinarian to monitor their overall well-being.

FAQs About Ackie Monitors

  1. Q: Are ackie monitors suitable for beginner reptile keepers? A: Ackie monitors can be suitable for dedicated beginners who have done thorough research and are committed to providing the necessary care requirements.
  2. Q: Can ackie monitors be housed together? A: While ackie monitors are generally solitary reptiles, it is possible to house compatible individuals together if provided with ample space and resources.
  3. Q: How long do ackie monitors live in captivity? A: With proper care, ackie monitors can live for 10 to 15 years or even longer.
  4. Q: Do ackie monitors require UVB lighting? A: Yes, ackie monitors benefit from UVB lighting to aid in calcium metabolism and overall health. Providing UVB lighting is recommended.
  5. Q: Can ackie monitors be trained or tamed? A: Ackie monitors can become accustomed to their owners’ presence but may not display the same level of “taming” as some other reptiles. They are curious and intelligent but retain their wild instincts.


Ackie monitors are fascinating reptiles that offer a rewarding and engaging pet ownership experience. With their unique appearance, active behaviors, and manageable care requirements, they have become popular choices for reptile enthusiasts. By providing a suitable enclosure, appropriate temperature and humidity levels, a varied diet, and proper handling and care, you can ensure the well-being and enjoyment of your ackie monitor. Remember to always prioritize their health, seek professional guidance when needed, and cherish the special bond you develop with your scaly companion.