Ackie Monitors

an Ackie Monitor basking on a rock in their enclosure

Ackies are a smaller sized monitor lizard native to Northwestern Australia. They are usually found in dry areas, such as deserts and grasslands. As pets they tend to be very sedentary animals. They are fairly easy to feed, enjoying insects that most other small lizards enjoy.

They are not aggressive towards humans, and are generally docile once they are comfortable around people. Ackies are very easy to care for and maintain. They are very clean, and will actually get stressed if their enclosure isn’t kept clean. 

Ackies make fantastic pets for people who enjoy nature and wildlife. While they might not be as interesting as other pet lizards, they’re small enough for even young children to handle.

If the challenge of owning an Ackie Monitor interests you, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1000. While this might come as a bit of sticker shock to some people, you can buy them for much less. We actually recommend you pay the higher price because these are all captive born animals. 

Captive born Ackies almost always are free of ticks or mites or any other parasites the wild caught ones will have. Really what you’re paying for is a calmer pet without any of the parasites their wild version is almost guaranteed to have.

Ackie Monitors Information

  • Average Length: 24 to 28 inches
  • Average Weight: 15 to 18 pounds
  • Skin Appearance: Thick skin with scaled pattern
  • Skin Colors: Brown with light stripes
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Shedding: Once every few months
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Biting Tendency: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No tolerance to cold
  • Good Pet: They allow people to hand them, so yes! 
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Suitable for First-Time Pet Owners: No
  • Weight Gain: Moderate
  • Health Concerns: Metabolic Bone Disease, Obesity and Parasites  
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 20 years

Physical Appearance of Ackie Monitors

an Ackie Monitor looking for food

Ackie Monitors look similar to Komodo Dragons, but are much much smaller. They have pointed heads, small eyes and visible ear openings. Proportional to their bodies they have pretty long necks.

Ackie Monitors grow up to 28 inches long with their tail making up to two-thirds of their length. New hatchlings are born only 4 to 5 inches long and will grow to their full length in 2 years.

Ackie Monitors have tails with sharp scales that look like teeth on a saw blade. The back end of their body has these too, but they’re not as large as the ones on their tail. Ackie Monitors have long curled claws that let them dig and climb.

Females are smaller than males and have leopard-like skin appearance while males have darker skin and scales.

There are 3 sub-species or color variations of Ackie Monitors. Depending on the sub-species their color can be different. Usually Ackie Monitors have a brown body. The upper part of their body is dark brown with several contrasting patches and stripes. The color of the spots ranges from cream to yellow.

Temperament of Ackie Monitors

Ackie Monitors are friendly and receptive to human handling but it may take a little time before they will trust you. Once they are comfortable with their family they usually don’t get aggressive.

Ackie Monitors are active during the day and sleep at night. These are active and curious monitor lizards. They will explore their enclosure and surroundings while basking throughout the day.

Ackie Monitors are usually peaceful and can live in groups. Sometimes keeping them in groups may lead to biting or chasing each other. While this can look aggressive, it’s their way of playing. If you still see them getting aggressive, it’s best to house them in separate enclosures.

a close up of an Ackie Monitor

They can get stressed if the conditions inside their enclosure are not kept right. If Ackie Monitors get stressed they may whip their tail or try to bite you.

Their Compatibility with Children

Ackie Monitors don’t make the best pets for kids. They can be a lot of fun, but seeing your child covered in parasites they got from your Monitor might not be so fun. Ackie Monitors seem to have more parasites than most other reptiles. For this lizard we’re going to say that there are better options if you want to give a lizard to your child.

Anyone handling or touching Ackie Monitors should always wash their hands after being around them. Most lizards are carriers of infectious bacteria like Salmonella which can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Washing their hands should keep your children from contracting bacterial and fungal illnesses from your monitor lizard.

Living Space for Ackie Monitors

Setting up an enclosure for Ackie Monitor can be challenging. They need a large solid glass enclosure. The enclosure should have thick glass walls and a screened side. The top of the enclosure should be secured with a screen lid.

Several decorations should be added to the enclosure to create a more natural environment for your lizard.

Enclosure/Cage Size

Ackie Monitors need a large enclosure with enough height. While they don’t climb, the height of the enclosure is important because they need a deep substrate so that they can burrow.

The minimum recommended enclosure size for an adult is 48”Lx24”Wx24”H. If you can give them a larger enclosure then that’s even better. Because of their high temperature heat needs we recommend not using glass if possible because it holds heat so poorly. Something made with plexiglass will hold heat a lot better and not cost as much money to keep the enclosure warm.

a close up of an Ackie Monitor hiding in the shade

Substrate

Ackie Monitors like to burrow and need a deep substrate. The substrate should be between 6 to 12 inches deep.

The best substrates are the ones that can hold moisture. Good substrate choices are sand-based reptile substrate, coconut fiber and cypress chip.

Decorations

Rocks should be kept on the substrate of their enclosure. Ackie Monitors generally head to rocks when they feel scared. A few plants should be added to their enclosure to create a more natural enclosure for your pet.

Faux caves, pieces of wood and cork bark stacks can be used as decorations. Your Monitor will use these decorations to climb, burrow under them or even hide in.

Best Climate for Ackie Monitors

Ackie Monitors need separate hot and warm areas inside their enclosure. Placing the heating equipment on one side of the tank should create separate temperature zones.

Temperature

Ackies need a higher temperature than other lizards. A high-quality heat emitter should be used to heat their enclosure. Because of the higher heating needs we don’t recommend using an under the tank heater because they won’t provide anywhere near the heat your Ackie needs.

The temperature in the basking area needs to be kept between 110°F and 120°F during the day. A basking lamp should be placed in the hot area to keep the temperature nice and toasty. On the warm side, the temperature should be kept between 70°F and 90°F. 

The temperature during the night can be allowed to fall to 65°F. If the temperature falls below 65°F then your Ackie is going to be at an increased risk of having health problems.

an Ackie Monitor looking for food

Lighting

Keep the lights on for 10 to 12 hours a day. These monitors are active during the day and need a normal day and night cycle. We always recommend pairing the lights with a timer to control the lights. With the timer you never have to worry about forgetting to turn the lights on or off, it just happens like it does in nature.

A UVB lighting lamp should be added. The UVB light should be kept on for 12 hours a day. The UVB lamp becomes inefficient over time and should be replaced every 6 to 8 months. 

Humidity

Ackie Monitors need a humidity kept between 65 and 85 percent. If a good moisture retaining substrate is used it should give them most of the humidity that they need while they burrow. Just make sure not to have it too wet.

Water Source 

Ackie Monitors stay hydrated by pulling moisture from the air or absorbing it from the substrate. They’ll still need a water bowl in their enclosure to soak. If nothing else the water bowl will add extra humidity to their enclosure. 

You’ll want a water dish that is big enough for your lizard to soak. They will usually soak themselves when they start shedding their skin.

The Attention an Ackie Monitor Needs

Your Ackies enclosure should have two thermometers and a hygrometer. The thermometers should be added on both the warm and hot sides of the tank. Check the temperature and humidity levels regularly and make changes to your setup if needed.

After your Ackie Monitor becomes comfortable in their new home they can start being handled. If they try to run, hide or burrow, don’t try to handle them now. Come back and try to handle them later. Regular handling will gradually have them used to being handled.

Health Issues

Obesity

Overfeeding can cause obesity that can lead to other health issues. When looked at from above a healthy Ackie Monitor should have a slim and oval body. If your Ackie Monitor looks rounded then it means they are gaining weight. Overweight Monitors tend to become much less active making it harder to take the weight off.

If you see your pet gaining weight, scale back the amount that they’re fed to help them lose the extra weight. If they still don’t lose weight contact your vet for help.

Parasites

Intestinal Parasites like roundworms, hookworms or pinworms can cause serious health issues in reptiles. In mild cases, the disease may not show symptoms but in severe cases it can result in:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Behavioral issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose Stool
  • Throwing up food

Captive lizards generally contract parasitic infections from other infected reptiles, contaminated food or objects. Regular cleanings to their enclosure can reduce the chances your reptile will be infected from parasites in their environment. Take your pet to your vet if they have the above symptoms.

Parasitic infections have the potential to destroy the digestive tracts of your turtles and must be treated as soon as signs are noticed.

Mites

Mites are tiny black insects that are parasites. They feed off the blood of your reptile, and they can be quite the pain in the butt to get rid of once you have them. Most times they will be caught and sold already having mites, or they’ll get them from another pet.

Symptoms of mites on your reptile:

  • Long soaks in their water
  • Rubbing on objects in their enclosure
  • Tiny black specs on your reptile or objects in their enclosure
  • Tiny black specs on you from handling your reptile

We recommend contacting your vet to find out what treatment they recommend for killing mites. Keep in mind that mites don’t tend to stay in one place, and any other snakes or reptiles kept in the same room could be infested with mites as well. Distance between pets is key, just as washing up between handling pets is key to not spreading mites from pet to pet.

Ticks

Ticks are blood sucking parasites that are just as bad for your lizard as they are for people. They can pass on quite a number of terrible diseases to your reptile. Depending on what the ticks carry, or if left untreated, they can cause your reptile to die.

Symptoms of ticks on reptiles:

  • Rubbing on objects in their enclosure
  • Long soaks
  • Weight loss
  • Red spots or deformities on their skin

Usually with the above symptoms, especially red spots on their skin people will be suspicious of either ticks or mites. Ticks are a lot easier to see than mites are and with a close inspection of your reptile you should be able to spot them pretty easily.

The treatment is fairly straightforward and can be done at home, or you can have your vet do it. Once you find a tick attached to your lizard, rub it with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, then use tweezers to pull the tick off. Using alcohol first should help the tick release their grip and make them easier to pull off. If you are at all worried about diseases your reptile might have gotten from the ticks you can have your vet take a look and they may prescribe medication based on what they find.

Metabolic Bone Disease

MBD is the most common disease found in pet reptiles. The disease is caused by your reptile not having enough vitamin D to properly absorb calcium. Being exposed to UV lighting helps them create vitamin D that they can use to absorb calcium.

 Symptoms include:

  • Lower jaw swelling 
  • Limb swelling
  • Facial bone softening
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy

An X-ray can help identify the extent of the disease. Sometimes MBD can lead to fractures, thin bone tissue or thickened bone shafts. The disease is more common in reptiles less than 2 years old.

If left untreated the disease can also lead to death. Consult your vet immediately if you find any of the above mentioned symptoms in your reptile.

Treatments can range from injecting your reptile with mineral supplements to medication and dietary modifications. To keep your reptiles from having MBD, they should be fed a diet rich in calcium (or calcium supplements) and have daily exposure to UV lighting.

Grooming and Care

Your Ackie Monitor’s cage should be cleaned regularly to keep them healthy. It’s also important to know that Ackies love a clean home and will actually get stressed if it’s not cleaned often enough. Spot clean the substrate every day and replace it once a month. A deep clean using disinfectants should be done every month when the substrate is changed.

The water dish should be cleaned and filled with fresh water every day.

Feeding An Ackie Monitor

Ackie Monitors should be fed a variety of meaty foods. While Aukies prefer live food, they can adapt to eating dead or cooked food.

Insects like crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms and roaches should be their primary meal. Rotating their food is important to keep them from being nutritionally deficient. Mice, fish or eggs should be given to them occasionally as treats. Don’t feed these treats more than twice a month.

Ackie Monitors can become obese if overfed and should only be fed small quantities. Adults should be fed 4 to 5 days a week while baby Ackie Monitors should be fed every day.

Dust their food with calcium and vitamin supplements every day. These supplements promote healthy bones and lessen the chances of health problems like MBD.

Related Questions:

Are Ackie Monitors Good for Beginners?

Ackie Monitors have a long lifespan of 20 years and need a large enclosure. Their long life and enclosure needs make them demanding and expensive pets. Beginners may not be able to give Ackie Monitors the care they need. These monitors are best kept by advanced reptile owners who have the experience and money to care for them.