Ackie monitor, Varanus acanthurus

The active and intelligent Ackie monitor makes a great addition to any family

At a glance...
  • Ackie monitors, the perfect introduction to the monitor world
  • A fun and rewarding species with big personalities
  • Highly intelligent reptile that can even be trained
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Do Ackie monitors make good pets?

Ackie monitors are medium-sized lizards originating from Australia. Despite being medium lizards, they are quite small in comparison with other Varanids making them a great option as a first pet monitor lizard.

This species is diurnal and very active, which means they will almost always be out and about and on show during the day, so they make perfect display animals in a large naturalistic enclosure. This species is also highly intelligent, with many keepers choosing to target train their Ackie monitors which can be extremely rewarding for both monitor and keeper.

Ackie monitors can live peacefully with other individuals, however, extra care should be taken to provide them with lots of space and not to house two individuals of different sizes together. The cohabitation of Ackie monitors can still end badly, particularly if two males are housed together, so they should be monitored closely to ensure the two individuals are compatible. We also recommend against keeping a male and female together permanently, as this can put too much breeding strain on your female and lead to health issues down the line.

What size vivarium does an Ackie monitor need?

Due to their high activity levels, Ackie monitors should be provided with a large enclosure to match this. We recommend a minimum enclosure size of 180 x 60 x 60cm (6 x 2 x 2ft) for a single adult, although this should be close to double for a pair of Ackie monitors. At Swell reptiles, we do not stock an enclosure large enough for an adult, however, the VivExotic Repti-Home (AAL) Vivarium Medium Oak is not a bad option for a hatchling/juvenile.

Do Ackie monitors need to be heated?

Hailing from Australia, Ackie monitors require a basking area temperature between 40-50°C (104-122°F), which is quite hot compared with most reptiles. Some thermostats may not accommodate such high temperatures, so extra care should be taken when purchasing a thermostat to ensure that it does, something like the Microclimate EVO would be a good option here, which can control both heat bulbs when set to dimming and ceramic heaters when set to pulse.

Ackie monitors will thank you for providing them with a low-level nighttime heat also, in the form of a non-light emitting heat source such as a ceramic heater so as not to disturb their day-night cycle. This should be set to around 25°C (77°F) to still provide a natural nighttime drop in temperature, but to ensure it does not get so cold that their body temperature drops lower than is recommended.

Do Ackie monitors need UVB?

Ackie monitors do best with a UVI between 4-6, so a high-level UVB is required to keep this species healthy. The percentage of UV should be tailored to the distance between the animals highest basking zone and the light fixture itself.

If this distance will be between 25-30cm (10-12”), then an Arcadia ProT5 Kit - Forest 6% would be required. If the distance will be between 30-45cm (12-18”), an Arcadia ProT5 Kit - Desert 12% will be better. Any higher than this, but no higher than 60cm (24”) and the Arcadia ProT5 Kit - Dragon 14% will be more suitable.

Do Ackie monitors need high humidity?

The ideal humidity range for an Ackie monitor is between 50-65%, which is on the higher end of the average room humidity in the UK. Due to this, these humidity levels are quite easy to achieve without much work.

We recommend using a loose sand-soil mix for your substrate such as Arcadia EarthMix Arid for Ackie monitors, these substrates will help to maintain humidity whilst also encouraging the natural digging and burrowing behaviour of this species. You may also need to mist the enclosure from time to time with a handheld spray bottle if the humidity drops too low.

How do I decorate an Ackie monitor’s vivarium?

As Ackie monitors are very intelligent reptiles, their enclosures should create a complex environment with plenty of enrichment to keep them stimulated and prevent boredom or stress. This can be done by adding logs, cork bark, rocks, tunnels, branches and vines in the form of live or artificial plants. Time outside of the enclosure can also provide added enrichment, but this should be regulated to ensure they are not spending too much time away from the heat and UV provided inside the enclosure.

What do Ackie monitors eat?

Ackie monitors are carnivorous and should be fed a varied diet primarily made up of livefoods such as crickets, locusts, cockroaches, mealworms and so on. Older monitors can also be offered the occasional frozen mouse, frozen chick or even eggs, but these should be kept for infrequent feeding as they are very high in protein and can lead to weight-related health issues when fed as staple options.

All livefood offered to an Ackie monitor should be supplemented according to a feeding cycle to ensure they are getting all of the required nutrients to remain healthy. At Swell Reptiles we recommend using a calcium-rich multivitamin on every feed, such as Arcadia EarthPro-A, a calcium plus magnesium supplement on every fourth feed, such as Arcadia CalciumPro Mg and finally, a vitamin D3 supplement on every eighth feed such as Arcadia EarthPro RevitaliseD3.

How do I buy an Ackie monitor?

If you would like to purchase one of our Ackie monitors, we will need to see a few images of a suitable set-up ready for the animal to go into, already having the correct temperature and humidity parameters and adequate UVB lighting installed.

Please come into our store to see us with these images, we will ask to see them and ask a few quick questions to ensure you are ready for the commitment of one of these beautiful animals. We reserve the right to refuse adoption to anyone we feel is unprepared to adopt.

For more detailed husbandry information, please refer to our dedicated Ackie Monitor Care Sheet.

Common names Ackie monitor, Dwarf ridge-tailed monitor, Dwarf spiny-tailed monitor
Scientific name Varanus acanthurus
Country Australia
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 60cm (2ft)
Natural habitat Arid, woodland scrub
Housing 180 x 60 x 60cm (6 x 2 x 2ft)
Ideal temperature 40-50°C (104-122°F) (warm end); 25°C (77°F) (cool end)
UVI 4-6
Ideal humidity 50-65%
Diet Carnivorous
Average lifespan 15-20 years
Personality Active
Ease of handling Moderate
Cohabitable Similarly sized individuals only
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Help Guides
  1. Ackie monitor, Varanus acanthurus, care sheet
    Categories: Care sheetsLizards

    Ackie monitor, Varanus acanthurus, care sheet

    Ackie monitor, Varanus acanthurus, husbandry guide from the experts at Swell Reptiles, covering housing, heating, lighting and more.