Reptiliana: Ultimate Reptile Resource

Spiny Tailed Monitor General Information (Varanus Acanthurus)
February 22, 2008, 4:18 am
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The Spiny-tailed Monitor or Ridge-tailed Monitor (Varanus acanthurus) is a small species of monitor lizard. They are native to Northwestern Australia and live in a variety of habitats from arid to tropical regions. Spiny-tailed Monitors are usually a reddish brown with yellow markings but color and pattern can vary with geographic origin. A distinctive feature is their thick spined tail – hence their common name. This tail is used for both attacking prey and for protection from predators. When attacking prey the tail is used like a whip, stunning the prey item which is then consumed without expending further effort. When used in defense, the Ridge-tail will scramble into loose rocks or boulders and use its tail to wedge itself in tight. The spikes give the tail good grip on the rocks, making extraction by other predators nearly impossible. In the species’ home territory, the tail is often found discarded near Ridge-tail carcasses, indicating that predators of this species consider the tail inedible.

Heating and Lighting for the Spiny Tailed Monitor (Varanus Acanthurus)
February 22, 2008, 4:15 am
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What’s the best temperature for your ackie? Only it knows! Besause we cannot possibly know what the “best” temp is, we have to offer a wide range of temps. You should provide a basking spot of 120 degrees farenheit and a cold spot of 75, with everything in between. If you provide a range of everything within safe limits, and let your lizard choose what it wants, you can’t go wrong.

Light has been a big issue with lizards since I can remember. With all the misinformation on UVA and UVB and ‘full spectrum’ lighting it’s hard to tell how to aproach the light situation. Which bulb is best? The answer: it doesn’t matter! Simple flourescent lights work perfectly for ambient light, and simple incadescent bulbs work great for heating. Both can be purchased cheaply at any hardware store. If you want to make sure your ackie gets the right vitamins, supplement the diet with vitamin supplements like “rep-cal” or “herptivite”, don’t leave it to a light.

Feeding the Spiny Tailed Monitor (Varanus Acanthurus)
February 22, 2008, 4:13 am
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Feeding varanus acanthurus isn’t a hard task. The only thing ‘hard’ about it is being thorough. All monitors need a varied diet, and ackies are no exception. Because of their small size, a mostly-insect diet (the correct diet) is highly feasible. Here, we’ll discuss several possibilities for an ackie diet.

  • Crickets – By far the most popular insect food item. They are easily and cheaply obtainable, and make a great staple food item. Also, they can provide a good source of exercise for the lizards, as well as entertainment for the owner.
  • Mealworms – Another ideal source of food. Mealworms are small and easily stored. An excellent ‘treat’.
  • Cockroaches – Though more expensive than the previously mentioned food items, these are excellent food for monitors. An added plus, is that if you invest in a small colony, and keep them right you’ll have babies in no time, perfect size for ackies.
  • Pinkies – A classic choice for medium to small sized lizards… however it isn’t a good choice. Pinky mice and rats are very high in fat, and not too high in nutrients. They are the equivalent of a stick of butter for us. Real high fat, but not a lot of roughage. A horrible staple, but they make a good treat.

Housing the Spiny Tail Monitor (Varanus Acanthurus)
February 22, 2008, 4:11 am
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Housing ackies is a relatively simple task when you know what the minimum requirements are. And when I say minimum, I mean the least you can do to assure that your monitor carries out a healthy, happy, stress-free life. To accomplish these minimum requirements, 3 things need to be considered: burrowing, thermoregulation, and overall well being. Let’s start with burrowing.

If given the chance, in captivity as in the wild, your ackie will burrow. So, to allow for this you should plan on providing at least a foot deep layer of substrate. For substrate, a mix of sand and potting soil in a 1:1 ratio works well for most. If kept semi moist, this substrate will allow for your monitor to tunnel easily. If you plan on breeding your ackies, a deep layer of substrate is a must. Read about that here. Burrowing no only helps with breeding/egg laying but it allows the monitor a place to feel secure, and seek refuge when it wants to sleep or be left alone. Now, on to our next housing concern: thermoreulation.

When housing varanus acanthurus, you’ll want to make sure your animal always has a choice of temperatures so it can get as hot, or as cold as it pleases. When you’re considering an enclosure for an ackie, you want to keep this in mind. Provide an enclosure big enough for a heat gradient of 125 to 75. This way your monitor will always be able to choose the right temps.

The issue of “overall well being” deals with cage size, and cage type. Although you can get away with a small cage, why do it? Give your ackies space to run and they’ll use it. Ackies are very intelligent and active lizards, and they’ll spend time chasing each other, exploring, and trying to escape. As for cage type, ackies aren’t necessarily arboreal lizards. If you give them some vertical space, they’ll use it… but a cage with plenty of ground space is much more practical. Also, because of the high temps available in the cage, you want something that will retain moisture so you’re lizards don’t dehydrate. Wire or screen cages are horrible candidates for ackie housing, as are some plywood cages if not sealed properly.