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New To Red Tailed Ackie Care Questions

Discussion in 'Monitors' started by Kaitlyn Boucher, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. So, I'm VERY new to owning reptiles. I love them to death and I have been wanting one since I was little. I am currently 17 and my mother is finally thinking about letting me have an Ackie, which is really the only thing she's even said "We'll see." to. I have been doing as much research as I can so that if I am able to get one I'd be able to care for it properly. But throughout my research there has been constant bickering between people on certain things when it comes to housing and substrate for them.

    1. Terrarium Size: All around I've been seeing the dimensions 4x2x2, but when I look further and try to see the suggestions for a single Ackie I cant seem to find a size. I only see people recommending a size for multiple monitors. In a thread I finally saw a measurement for a singular monitor, being a 5x2.5-3x3 (feet). I just wanna make sure what a good size would be so that the Ackie wouldn't outgrow the tank in a few months. I did read the care thread in the monitor forums, but I want to see what others think and if possible pictures to help. My dad is a construction worker and could help build a cage if necessary (I've seen people say you cant get a suitable one online plus I feel building it would be cheaper.)

    2. Substrate: This is probably the BIGGEST thing that people have been arguing on that I've seen in researching these. I've seen people recommend granite but then others say there's nothing but bad reviews and that it can cause intestinal issues when digested. I know that they need a good deep layer of it (8 to 12") to burrow and that it would have to hold up the burrows and keep humidity. Peoples have also suggested to spray the burrows while the Ackie isn't inside to keep it humid. What would you recommend for substrate and what is your experience with it for raising Ackies?

    3. Humidity: I've seen it suggested anywhere from 30% all the way up to 75%, I know humidity affects the shedding process so I really don't want to mess that up and end up causing a bad shed or worse. I've seen people say that you should keep the air and surfaces dry and the burrows moist. (Meantioned a bit in Substrate). It seems like a lot of people fight over this and I just want my Ackie to have a good cage that doesn't stress them out.

    4. Foliage/Basking: I've seen the technique of stacking plywood or rocks with enough space for them to climb up to new lairs with some logs for climbing on. What is the best to put into an Ackie enclosure? (Pictures would be very helpful I learn more with visuals but seeing people tell others they're doing it wrong is throwing me off). When it comes to basking is it better to have a flat area where they can lay out and get warm that way or places have suggested a sort of hide that has a warmer top and a cooler bottom they can climb on to bask.

    5. Temperature: People have said they need to be kept anywhere from 120° F being the lowest to 170° F being the highest I've seen. I know they're from Australia and are used to high temps, but people are giving temps so far apart it's confusing. Then people say that the ambient side shouldn't fall below 80° then some say 75° to 60°(which seems way to low to me). Plus there should be a lot of different temps within with hides to choose from so they aren't too hot or cold, using an IR gun to test them. If possible I'd love a link for how to set up the lights and basking area.

    6. UVB or no UVB and Diet: I've seen people who say that they need UVB lights and that it's good to get the 2 in 1 UVB and heat lamps, but then others say they dont need it as long as they have a good diet, which brings me to, what is the best diet to feed Ackies? I've seen only mice, to some mice but mostly bugs, to all bugs. I know roaches and mealworms have been suggested a lot and roaches seem to be in every suggestion. Do they need the calcium/vitamin powder to be on their food (other than mice)?

    I'm really just looking for as much help as I can get seeing as wherever I look there's bickering and fighting, even from people that are breeders who get called out for doing it wrong (ik breeders are far from perfect but you'd think someone who is selling living things would want to keep them in nice, safe, and, stable conditions). Does anyone have a good tutorial or picture of a good cage with preferable side doors (suggested since a hand from god/above would stress them). I don't plan to get an Ackie until I know that I have a suitable cage and I can take care of it properly. If there are any good tips you can give me for them or just common knowledge have at it, I wanna learn as much as possible. Also, link me to reliable breeders so I know I'm not supporting mass breeders that dont care about the animals they sell and are just in it for the money and so I dont end up getting ripped off/scammed.
     
  2. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Did you read this?
    Ackie Monitor | Reptile Forums - Information

    Not everyone does this the same way, there can be more than way to house them. But there are certain things that you NEED to have in place that there is no compromise.
     
  3. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    First off, let me just say that it is great to see someone doing the research before actually getting the animal rather than after the fact. It's so much better for the animal if they can come home to a cage that already has all the kinks worked out. And every setup will require some tweaking to get everything running right. Now I'll give you my thoughts and opinions, based on having kept ackies for a few years now.

    1. Cage size- We are keeping essentially wild animals in a box, so you really can't make it too big. I would build a cage 4'Lx2'dx3'h. The extra height is for a substrate depth of around 12". This gives plenty of room above the substrate for fixtures and cage decor. That is also big enough that you can add more ackies later on if you decide too (more on that later).

    At this point I have to go back to work, so I'll finish this in a while.
     
  4. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Terrarium size - I've bred them and raised the tiny little fellers. If you are getting a hatchling. Stay small, 2ft long is enough. Substrate is wet paper towel. They hide under it and it's great for humidity. The small tank also makes sure they can get their food. WATCH him eat or count the crickets you are putting in so you can know how much he is eating. This tank will only last you about a month. It's just a healthy way to start.

    Substrate people make so difficult, but really it's not. Top soil is bad. You want dirt like fine gravel and a sand mix. If you can get river bottom silt that stuff is great.

    Humidity must be contained - this is one of the MUST HAVES
    No screen tops - You shouldn't have to add water or mist for 3-4 days.

    Basking - Retes stack work great. You'll have to make new ones as he gets bigger. The point of them is the different levels provide different temperatures under the basking light. The spaces should be just enough to squeeze into.

    Temps are in the caresheet

    Lighting - Don't need UV with proper diet and supplementation. I would stick with insects for Ackies. But what you feed insects is what's the most important. Try to keep the proper calcium to phosphorous ratio. There is lots on the web about that for reptiles.

    You'll see a few of us here have experiences with Ackies and maybe we do things a little differently. But some important things we do the same.
     
    Darkbird likes this.
  5. Yes I did read it, but with everything people say about "online care sheets" and stuff like that I just wanted to make sure that what it says is good for Ackies. Since this would be my first time owning a reptile I want to make absolutely sure that I know as much as possible in caring for them and I'm not being fed false information. Since I've seen people flip about those care sheets I just wanted some form of validation I guess.
     
  6. I read that a fish tank would be ok to start with for a hatchling, I do plan on keeping an already built tank handy for when the outgrow it so would the fish tank be alright as long as I replaced the screen top with plexiglass or something that would keep the humidity in? If not would starting them off in their adult cage be ok? I know that they're pretty small as hatchlings and I've heard mixed feelings about housing them in smaller or their adult cages.

    I love in Montana so river silt isnt anything too scarce, would there be anything to know about using the silt, should it be dried and washed off to make sure there arent any parasites or something in it????

    Ah ok, I never even saw anything about phosphorous just calcium. I'll make sure to look into that more, I've got a big sheet of notes and all for this do I don't lose any of the information.
     
  7. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Back now, lol. I will say I pretty much agree with everything kriminaal said, he has quite a bit more experience than me with Ackies. And the cage size I gave was for an adult or group of adults. Also, it may help you to find an established juvenile or young adult to start off with, as this is your first reptile and hatchlings can be a bit more difficult to deal with. Or at least I had more issues with them. Anyway back to it.

    2. I didn't really have any issues with the topsoil/sand mix I used, but I would go with what kriminaal recommended if you can get it.
    3. I kept the humidity reading 65% or more measured at the cool end above the substrate. It will be higher (up to 100%) in the burrows, which is how it should be.
    4. For the basking site, I used a combination of a retes stack and a tangle of branches. At the time I was having trouble doing the stack properly, so I added a tight pile of branches to give them more options for basking sites and temperatures. This was how I found out they will use much higher temperatures that what some believe, as I had made a spot that was over 165°f without realizing it. Found out when I spot checked areas that they were using with a temp gun. Main point is to give them lots of options and let them figure it out.
    5. Temps. Already mentioned some of it, but to give the basics, 130+ at the basking site, 75 at the cool end (I like 80 for hatchlings) and 65% or so humidity measured at the cool end.
    6. I agree with kriminaal, UV isn't needed with proper diet. Doesn't hurt anything either, but it adds expense to the setup.

    As for diet, mine get mostly roaches and crickets, with some rodent and other bugs mixed in. I try and give as much variety as possible.
     
  8. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Topsoil/sand mix is good. That's what was always most convenient for me. I was lucky enough to find some silt at one time and it worked out great.
    Just not straight topsoil. Dries out really fast and when you add water to it, pools up and becomes muck.

    You don't want any substrate that has too much clay in it. When digging in clay it forms little balls under nails as it's sticky. The balls harden up, restrict blood flow and proper toe shedding. That's where you get in the problem of toe loss. Without proper toe shedding, the skin dries up, shrinks and cuts of the flow of blood.
     
    Darkbird likes this.
  9. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Ahh, gotcha, wasn't really processing that right in my head, lol.
     
  10. Cant edit the previous response to the smaller cage, but would a sectioned off area of a larger cage work then I can expand it as they grow? Just so I dont have to worry about spending an excess amount of money?
     
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, I`m the "bad cop" so I`ll disagree (respectfully) with some of the suggestions offered..;)
    A 4 x 2 x 2 (feet) enclosure is not acceptable for keeping even a single adult in for 15 to 20+ years no matter how many people have done that and suggest "it`s all they need" (oh really)? I would recommend a minimum of 5L x 3W x 3H (feet) for one single adult V. acanthurus, even bigger is better.
    Yes you absolutely CAN section off a larger tank if you`re concerned about how a hatchling is faring, it would be far less stressful than rehousing.
    A minimum ambient (air) temp of around 24c (75f) is fine day or night, although if the animal is female the substrate will need to be heated to quite a narrow temp range throughout (including from the enclosure bottom) @ between approx. 75f at the very bottom to around the mid 80`s F mid depth which is likely to be where a female will nest, and that should be in place at all times because we do not know when they`ll become gravid (there`s a 50% chance the monitor will be female). They can go from egg to egg in less than 6 months when fully supported in captivity, sexual maturity is more to do with size than age (snout to vent length).
    They have been recorded using basking surface temps @ 160f or higher.
    Hatchlings heat up very quickly but may use exactly the same temp range as adults, I think a minimum of 50c (120f) is fine, offering a range is the best way...
    They do like to climb, so fix sturdy branches/logs and provide lots of cover.
    If the monitor is receiving a mainly invert diet then I think providing UVB exposure would be beneficial (supplementation is mostly pure guesswork) feed the feeders very well...
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  12. I was planning on going with a 5x3x3 as that's what people have been suggesting a lot throughout the forums when asked about singular Ackies, and I really want them to have a comfortable area to run around. I know sexing reptiles when young is hard but I've seen places that offer male and female hatchling so I was thinking of getting a male. Of course when they're older I'll see if they are what was supposed to be sent to me (I've seen people buy a Male hatchling that was labeled male and have it turn out to be female so I just wanna be sure. I wouldnt send it back or anything I'd just wanna make sure I can give it what's necessary for nesting and all.
     
  13. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Deep substrate is very beneficial to males as well.
    They are a burrowing species and that is where they rehydrate.
     
  14. I know, I didnt meant to say that I wouldnt give them a deep substrate, I just hear there's a good few things more to control when it comes to females than males. I've made sure to put in as much detail about how they're a harrowing species that gets hydrated from burrowing and all. I'm going to keep at least 12" or so of substrate for them.
     
    kriminaal likes this.
  15. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Some sellers will say anything they think you`ll want to hear (such as the gender of hatchlings) there is a technique that has been shown to be quite reliable but if someone tells you they know how to tell the sex of hatchlings, ask them how they do it... If you`re interested to learn more I`ll put a link up...
     
  16. I wouldnt mind either sex really. Just gotta make sure I know what they need so I'd at least like yo be prepared if it's a female and does need nesting temps and all that. I would love to learn how to do it myself!
     
  17. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

  18. Yeah I figured, I meant I'd like to learn and all! That does seem pretty helpful and I'll keep in mind to ask them for help in making sure I have the gender I think I have! Thank you for all the help!
     
  19. Cherux02

    Cherux02 Active Member

    Have you already read about "empty cage syndrome"? It may take a small monitor quite a while (like a year) to come out of hiding. A well designed enclosure would provide cover to hide like that. There isn't a guarantee you'll get to tong feed or handle. There are cute videos on YouTube, but lots more posts about people who cant get near them. I just mention that so you arnt disappointed.
    I couldn't find it above, did someone mention the thermal gun for measuring the basking site being over 120f? They sell them online and at auto stores.
     
  20. I know about the thermal gun and I've heard of some about small monitors not coming out. I'm not going to force handle or do anything to stress it out and I wont be disappointed if I'm not able to. I just wanna do what's best for them, I don't mind having a "look at" pet and I'd be fine with not handling them. When I find out if I'm able to get one and have a planned cage made up I'll probably post it somewhere to make sure that it would be suitable (I've done research but again I wanna be completely sure it would be ok for the monitor).
     

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