Sunday, May 29, 2011

Monitor Lizards (Goannas)

This is a Lace Monitor taken in the Grampions in Victoria. This was the first goanna that I encountered in the wild. (taken Mar2002) In a country that doesnt have that many large predatory animals it makes seeing one of these creatures at close quarters really exciting. Most of these images were taken with telephoto is not the type of creature I would want to corner or startle. If you want to see a larger image of any of these pics, just double click on them.

In Australia we refer to our monitor lizards as goannas. It might sound like an aboriginal word but it is actually a word early europeans came up with. It is really just a mispronunciation of the word iguanna (another type of large lizard found elsewhere in the world-but belonging to a different family).
There are about 50 species of these lizards world wide and Australia has 26 of them. The largest of one, the perentie can grow to about 2.4 m. They are powerfully built creatures which will readily takes to trees if startled. They live in most parts of the country except Tasmania, where it is too cold for them and while many of them live in desert areas they can also be found around water and in tropical rainforrest.

Keep River National Park, NT. This is a yellow-spotted monitor (Varanus panoptes ).

This photo shows the powerful claws used for climbing, digging and defence. It is about the size of a large mans hand.

A close up of a Lace monitors face. The two yellow bands under its chin are identifying marks for this species. Depot Beach NSW.

Lace Monitor - Fraser Island Qld.

Fraser Island, Qld.

This is a close up of tthe scales of a water monitor. They look more like little beads than scales.

Barcaldine, Qld. (above & below) Spencer's Monitor (Varanus spenceri )

The Kimberley, WA. Yellow-Spotted Monitor (Varanus panoptes ).

Welford NP, Qld. Yellow-spotted monitor. (above & 2 below).

Derby WA. Freckled Monitor (Varanus tristis)

Kangaroo Island SA. Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi)
(above & below)

Cape Tribulation, Qld. Lace Monitor.

Fraser Island, Qld. Lace Monitor.

Umbrawarra Gorge, NT. This is a Mertens' Water Monitor. (Varanus mertensi). These monitors spend some of their time in the water looking for food and are good swimmers. After swimming in the cold water this one found itself a hot rock to lay on to warm up again. It flattened itself to get as much contact with the rock as possible. The photos below are of the same lizard. I watched it swim and forage for about 30 minutes and it carried on as though I wasn't there.

Keep River NP, NT. Mitchell's Water Monitor.


Anonymous said...

all photos labelled as gouldii are actually Varanus panoptes and the goanna you have found in Barcaldine is actually Varanus spenceri and the monitor from Derby is Varanus tristis

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your help identifying hoping that other people will do what you have done if they recognize what they are looking at. Chris

Anonymous said...