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  • Writer's pictureIan

Goannas

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Lace Monitors

(Varanus Varius)

Looking at a goanna can't help but invoke images of dinosaurs.

Lace monitors are Australia's second largest goanna. They can grow up to 2m in length so are sizable animals. Lace monitors are fairly common in this region.

There are two colour types of lace monitor, the grey with bands and spots and the Bell's phase with large dramatic bands of yellow and black.

Bell's phase lace monitor

Goannas tend to saunter around seemingly randomly as they cover their territory. They return to the same territory each year after the come out of their cool month retreat.

They can live up to about 15 years, although it is difficult to get specific information on this. We have one individual we call Jac who has been photographed at Istari since 2003 and noticed years previous to this. She, we know she is a female as we have witnesses her being mounted, has lost one leg when young but has adapted well to survive with three legs. She must be getting old and will regularly pause for a lie down. She is very used to us with just the occasional hiss as we pass by just to frighten us.

Jac having a nap on her favourite log. Notice the back leg is a stump but she has no trouble getting around.

They can also run quickly on the ground or up or more astonishingly down a vertical tree trunk with equal ease. They head for a tree when threatened, running straight up the trunk using their long claws.

Strong claws allow the goanna to grip the bark of trees as they scamper up and down.

They don't just climb tree trunks to escape, they will scale the slenderest branches in search of baby birds or eggs. They eat just about anything from insects to frogs, birds and their eggs or anything dead they find. They can unlock their jaws to swallow large bones or animals whole.

Goannas are our constant companions throughout the summer. They start to appear as the first warm day appears in spring. During the cooler months they retire to logs and holes to rest.

Like most reptiles, goannas lay eggs to reproduce. Mating season is in spring or early summer. Six to twelve eggs are often laid in termite nests after digging a hole in the nest. The termites seal the hole, encapsulating the eggs and providing a constant temperature for the incubation of the eggs.

Despite their hissing, yes they hiss if they don't like you, they are a beautiful animal, particularly after molting as the colours are clearest. Goannas will also curl their long tail and will flick it out like a whip if threatened.

Lace monitors (probably males) sizing each other off

Goannas are solitary animals. They occasionally confront each other as they cross paths.

Also see our blog Goannas can jump

 

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