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Ackie Monitor – Scientifically known as the Varanus acanthurus – is a species of lizard native to Australia. It has many common names including  Australian Spiny Tailed Monitor, Ridge Tailed Monitor, and Ackie Dwarf Monitor. It is a beautiful species of lizard with a long tail and colorful appearance. This lizard is one of the favorite choices of many pet owners who want exotic pets. This species is called Ackie Monitor because it belongs to the Monitor lizard genus. Also, its common name Australian Spiny Tailed Monitor refers to the fact that its tail also contains bones that are connected to the spine of this lizard.

The Ackie Monitor lizard has three known varieties, each with a distinct look, offering you more choices. It is a species of lizards that can live in a variety of conditions, which means it will be easy for you to house them and keep them alive and healthy in different climate conditions. It can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, making it possible for you to keep them in partially enclosed containers instead of completely enclosed ones. Also, it has a very long lifespan, which means you won’t have to worry about replacing them every few years. But they can only live a long life, if you keep them in optimal conditions and if you take proper care of them. You can only take good care of them if you know about them and their needs. The article below provides you with all the information that you need to take care of this species.

Basic Facts Table

SizeAbout 28 inches
LifespanAbout 20 years
Temperature80 F to 120 F
Habitat SizeLarge, 120 gallons capacity tank
TemperamentDocile, calm, and gentle.
Care level RequirementsBeginner

Ackie Monitor Species Overview

The Ackie Monitor lizard is native to Australia and is one of the most famous species of lizards that are used as a pet. It is known for its tail which looks different. Among pet lizards, it is one of the largest that you can keep in a container as it can grow up to 34 inches in its natural habitat. Even inside the captivity, it can grow up to 27-28 inches. The size remains the same in both male and female members of this species. Most of their body is composed of their tail. According to estimates, their tail can be as long as 1.3 to 2.3 times their total body size. Also, their tails are different compared to other species of lizards as they contain part of the spine. Its long tail is one of the reasons that it cannot climb vertical surfaces as it drags them back. So, you won’t have to worry about them climbing the tank walls and escaping. But it is important that you select a tank that has a roof or that can be covered to prevent any escape attempts.

It is a species that is native to the Australian climate, which is hot and humid. It is mostly found in the north-western parts of Australia, including the Northern Territory and Queensland. Both males and females in this species appear to be similar colors. But you can identify them separately using their male and female body parts. They live in arid conditions in places where there is water, shade, and sand. The presence of water makes the land arid, and sand makes it easy for them to dig burrows to hide during the day. It is not a nocturnal species of lizard, which means you will notice that it will spend most of its day basking and running. Sometimes, they also remain active during the night.

This species is also called the Spiny-tailed Lizard because its tail contains multiple spines. It is a feature that distinguishes them from most of the other species in this family. Most of the Ackie Monitor lizards that are found in pet shops are captively bred specimens as it is extremely difficult to find in their natural habitat. It is one of the large species of lizards that you can keep in your vivarium, but you should know that it is a species that will cost you a lot more as compared to most other species. Smaller species can cost between $100 to $500 but this large lizard can cost you more than $1000. Also, you will have to work extra on taking care of it. So, if you are planning on buying one for yourself, you should know these costs beforehand.


The Ackie Monitor lizard has a distinctive look. It has a very large spiny tail that is 1 to 2 times larger than the body of the lizard itself. Also, both males and females look similar in color, size, and shape, but they have distinctive-looking sexual organs. As mentioned earl it has three different varieties, and each variety has a different color. Apart from the brown skin color, there are yellow dots that are spread across the body of the Ackie Monitor lizard. Here is a list of the Ackie Monitor lizard varieties that you can buy from the market.


  1. Varanus a. brachyurus or Yellow Ackie: most of the Ackie Monitor lizards that you will see in pet shops are the yellow Ackie. It is a very common pet species. It is known for being peaceful, docile, and gentle as compared to the other two. This is the lizard variety that you should pick for yourself. Yellow Ackie comes in multiple shades of yellow color, starting from tan to dark yellow.
  2. Varanus a. acanthurus or Red Ackie: You can also keep the Red Ackie as a pet but it is not a variety that you will see in pet shops. It is extremely hard to find and breed and that is why most pet shop owners do not keep it. This is a species of lizard that is extremely difficult to care for and that is why most pet owners advise against buying it.
  3. Varanus a. Insulanicus or Island Ackie: It is one of the most common naturally occurring varieties of the Ackie Monitor, but it is not a variety that you will see in pet shops. The main reason behind this is that it is not a petting species. It is known for being extremely violent and aggressive. That is why it is not suitable for petting.

All three of these varieties look similar, except for their body colors. You should buy a Yellow Ackie as compared to the other two as it is a more gentle, docile, and petable variety. The upper part of their body contains a brown color, mixed with the yellow stains or spots. Apart from that, the lower part of their bodies is dull yellow. The brown spots on the lower part of their body are also less congested. This type of body coloration provides them a perfect cover to hide in their natural habitat. It is something that not only helps them survive but to hunt as well.

Behavior and Temperament

The Ackie Monitor lizard has three varieties, one of them is extremely violent and not suitable for petting. But the other two varieties are petable because they are docile, gentle, and peaceful. Also, they do not mind being handled, and held in their hands. You can touch their bodies and head, and they won’t mind. Except during the breeding season, if you try to pet them during the breeding season, they will make a lot of noise and will try to avoid your touch. It is very important to keep them in large containers as they can grow up to three feet long. The Ackie Monitor lizard is known for its curiosity.

So, if you put them in a room where there is a lot of change, motion, or light, you will notice that they will observe everything from their tank. The Ackie Monitor lizard should be kept in separate tanks because they do not like the presence of any other lizard near their habitat. So, keeping two or more in the same tank would give rise to territorial issues. Also, you will have to be careful during the breeding season as male and female Ackie Monitor lizards can start fighting. You should be vigilant and remove one of them from the tank as soon as something like that happens.

The lifespan of the Ackie Monitor

The Ackie Monitor lizard has a very long lifespan. It can live for more than two decades in its natural habitat. Under the right conditions, it can also survive for more than two decades in captivity. But you will have to work hard to maintain every parameter. This species is not very sensitive when it comes to temperature changes in the short term. But any long-term temperature, humidity, and light conditions change can put them at risk. So, make sure that you know these parameters and maintain them perfectly throughout the lifespan of the Ackie Monitor lizard in your tank.

How to Care for Ackie Monitors?

To keep your Ackie Monitor lizards alive in your vivarium, you need to take care of them properly. You can take care of them by providing them with a healthy environment, a balanced diet, water, and optimal living conditions. Also, you will have to protect them from diseases, and any kind of danger. Below is a complete care guide that includes housing setup, living conditions, dietary guide, breeding guide, and information about their diseases and how to treat them.

Housing Conditions and Setup

Housing setup is very important for the Ackie Monitor lizards as they are one of the large species of pet lizards. So, you will need a larger container to keep them. That is why the size of their habitat is one of the most important aspects of their housing setup. Apart from tank size, you will have to work on habitat setup. A habitat setup for this species should be similar to what it has in its natural habitat. After habitat, you will have to work the parameters such as temperature, humidity, and light conditions. These are all important factors as they directly impact the health of this lizard. Any change in them that is not optimal for this species would kill your Ackie Monitor lizards. That is why you need to maintain them perfectly at all times. After that, you will learn about the different types of substrates and decorations that you can use in their habitat.

●     Habitat Size

The Ackie Monitor lizard can grow up to 28 inches long in captivity. So, you will need a tank that is large enough to contain this large lizard. You should select a tank that is wide, long, and also tall to prevent their escape. For a young Ackie Monitor lizard, you can use a 50 to 60 gallons tank. But for a larger specimen, you will need a larger tank. That is why it is recommended to select a large tank, in the beginning, to avoid changing the vivarium as the Ackie Monitor lizard ages and gets bigger. Most experts agree on the selection of a 120 to 150 gallons tank, or a tank with these dimensions, 5 feet long, 2.5 feet wide, and 4 feet in height. A container of this size will be enough to satisfy the needs of your Ackie Monitor lizard. Anything smaller than this won’t work and you will have to change the container in the future. So, it is better to select a larger tank from the start.

●     Habitat Setup

After that, you will have to start working on creating an environment inside the vivarium for your Ackie Monitor lizards. To create a perfect vivarium environment that is suitable for them, you will need to know the type of habitat where they live. The Ackie Monitor lizard lives in arid, and sandy areas. Another important aspect of their habitat is that they live among the rocky terrain. So, you should use a combination of sand, and rock for their habitat. Spread a layer of sand in the bottom of their tank, and scatter some rocks partly submerged in the sand. Also, make sure that your habitat has working ventilation, light, temperature control, and humidity control systems. All of these systems are vital for maintaining the parameters. Also, you will need a cover to place on the top of the vivarium to prevent this lizard from escaping the vivarium.

●     Temperature

Maintaining the temperature in the vivarium of Ackie Monitor lizards is very important as they can only live within a specific range of temperatures. During the winter, this lizard can survive low temperatures of up to 80 F, and in the summer, it can survive the very hot conditions of up to 120 F. It is better to turn off the lights, and heat source during the night. So that it can get the cold temperatures that it needs to live. Their bodies cannot regulate the temperature like mammals, and their environmental temperature affects their health. So, maintaining it within these limits is very important for their survival.

●     Humidity

The Ackie Monitor lizard needs its environment to have at least 50 to 65 percent humidity. For that purpose, you can use humidifiers, or use a water spray and hot light to make the conditions more humid. When water evaporates because of the light conditions in the vivarium, it will make the environment more humid. You should use a humidity monitoring device to measure the humidity in your vivarium. So that if there are any changes in it, you can take the appropriate action.

●     Light Conditions

There are special lights available for the vivarium of lizards, but you can also use ordinary lights. Just make sure that you place your lights in a way that there are a few blindspots. These blindspots are very important. When your lizard needs to stay away from the light during the day, it would go to these blindspots to rest. Make sure that your lights remain on for at least 12 hours every day to meet the lighting requirements of this species. You should turn off the lights inside the vivarium in the evening. Also, make sure that there are no lights in the room where they are placed during the night. Otherwise, they won’t be able to sleep and it would impact their health as they need complete blackout during the night.

●     Substrate

Using the right type of substrate for the vivarium of the Ackie Monitor lizard is also very important. There are many substrates that you can use including fine mixtures of sand and clay, sand and stone, and homemade mixtures of sand. All of these are soft and allow the lizard to easily dig using its claws. Make sure that the layer of substrate is deep enough for the lizard to completely hide. Also, it is important to replace the substrate biannually.

Diet and Feeding Guidelines

The Ackie Monitor is a carnivorous species, and its diet consists of a lot of insects, small mice, worms, eggs, snails, and shrimps. It also eats a variety of canned foods, including canned meat products. You should feed it according to its size and weight. If you are feeding it small insects, then you should feed it every day. But if you are feeding it mice and other large food items, then you should feed it every third or fourth day. Also, larger and older lizards can survive without food for longer, and once they eat they need more food as compared to the younger lizards.

Breeding of Ackie Monitor

The Ackie Monitor lizard is one of those species that are easy to breed. They reproduce using eggs. Male members of this species use special voices to attract females for mating. After the mating, you should remove the female from the vivarium as they tend to become aggressive towards the males. Female Ackie Monitor lizards would lay eggs and would store them in one place and would protect them till hatching. Eggs will take a few weeks to hatch and small babies will come out. You will have to take care of them and feed them daily.


The Ackie Monitor lizard cannot be kept with other lizards or the lizards as they tend to be territorial. In their natural habitats, fights over territory, and females are common and that is why you should not put them in the same tank.

Health Concerns and Diseases

Here is a list of the diseases that can impact the health of Ackie Monitor lizards.

  • Obesity: It is one of the most common issues with this species of lizard. When they are kept in a vivarium or enclosed space, they tend to gain weight. This leads to obesity, which can sometimes cause their death. To prevent this, you should feed them according to a dietary schedule.
  • Parasitic Diseases: There are a lot of parasites, and worms that are present in the diet (insects, mice) of this species. So, when they eat such contaminated food, they get infected with those parasites. Most of these cause digestion issues, but some can be life-threatening. You can avoid it by carefully feeding them a healthy diet.
  • MBD or Metabolic Bone Disease: It is also one of the common diseases to occur in this species of lizards. It happens because of the lack of calcium in their diet. So, make sure that you provide them with a calcium-enriched diet.


The Ackie Monitor lizard is one of the favorite choices for those who want a lizard as a pet. It is a beautiful species of lizard with intricate patterns. It has a unique body and a very long tail. Their tails have spines and that is why they are often called spiny-tailed monitor lizards. There are three different varieties of this species, but only one of them is commonly seen in vivariums. It is one of those species of lizards that are easy to care for as they can live in a wide range of climate conditions and have a varied diet. You can keep them in your tanks for more than two decades if you properly take care of them.


Question: Are Ackie Monitors suitable for beginners?

Answer: Yes, Ackie Monitor lizards are good for beginners because they do not require extensive care. You just need to provide them with the living conditions they need, proper food, and water, and maintain the parameters and they will live for a very long time.

Question: Do Ackie Monitor lizards need water?

Answer: Yes, like all the other animals, they also need water to survive. You should keep a bowl of water in their habitat all the time. So that they can drink from it anytime they want. Replace the water every day if possible.

Question: How big can a Yellow Monitor get?

Answer: The Yellow Monitor (Ackie Monitor variety) can get 24 to 26 inches long. Most of their length is because of their tails which consist of about 1.4. To 2.3 times their body length.

Question: Why use a big tank for Ackie Monitor lizard?

Answer: Ackie Monitor lizards are large lizards, and can get 24 to 28 inches long within one to two years after their birth. So, you will need a larger tank to contain them as they age. In smaller containers, they won’t fit.

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