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Acantharus Monitor Care

(Varanus acantharus)

Size: Acantharus Monitors hatch out of the egg at about 4" long, but will grow very quickly. In just one year they can grow from 4" to 18". As adults they can reach up to 36" in length but 18-24" is the average. Babies should not be held the first week of ownership. This will give them time to adjust to their surroundings. Once they are settled in and feeding regularly, you can begin handling them often. I would suggest about 3-4 times per week in 30min. sessions. They should get used to being handled in only a week or two and will not outgrow the "handling size" like most other monitors, making them an ideal pet.
Food: Ackies love to eat. They enjoy eating almost as much as exploring their environment. Babies should be fed as many crickets as they will eat daily. Twice a week the crickets should be supplemented with Miner-All. Once they reach the one foot mark, you should start limiting their crickets and start adding weekly feedings of raw ground turkey and 1-2 mice. This diet will last them their entire lives.
Caging: Considering the growth rate of Ackies, you should probably just start them off in their adult sized enclosures. For 1-2 adults a cage measuring 4' long by 2' deep by 3' high will work wonderfully. The extra foot of height will allow you to provide them with a foot of substrate. Inside the cage they will need a place to hide, a place to bask, and a source of fresh, clean water. I would also suggest giving them something sturdy to climb on.
Substrate: Ackies, like all other monitors, love to dig. The best substrate you can get is just plain old dirt from your yard. Just make sure it is free of pesticides, bugs, and rocks. I would recommend a depth of at least 12". This will give them room to create burrows.
Heating & Lighting: Ackies, like all herptiles, are ectothermic, meaning they rely on outside sources of heat to warm their blood. I would recommend using a heat light to provide a basking spot. The basking spot should reach around 120 degrees for babies and up to 150 degrees for adults. As far as lighting, there is no scientific proof that monitors need UV lighting. But if you wish to provide them with UV anyway, make sure it is only on during the day, for up to 12 hours.

2004 Herptilian