lace monitor

Varanus varius

The Lace monitor or Tree goanna is a member of the monitor lizard family native to eastern Australia. It is one of Australia’s largest lizards with an adult weight of up to 14 kg and can grow to 2m in length. It can be found in forests and coastal tablelands across eastern Australia. They have a lifespan of approximately 40 years.

They have a flattened a body, a strong tail ready to strike at enemies, stout limbs, long digits and sharp claws. The neck is long neck with loose skin under the throat which sags causing it to look like the neck is bigger than the head. They will often puff out this skin when threatened to intimidate would be predators of when confronting each other.

Diet

Better known locally as Goanna, these large lizards are carnivorous and eat anything they can overpower, mainly birds, birds’ eggs, carrion, insects, small mammals and other reptiles. They will also opt for an easy meal and feed on carrion. They find their food by searching widely across the landscape, being great climbers they readily scale tree trunks in pursuit of prey or to escape danger. They also catch animals by stalking or digging them out of shelters and nests. Using their long forked tongues which they flick in and out, they pick up scent in the air and on the ground. Goannas then “read” these scents with a special organ in the roof of the mouth, much like a snake does. If the Goanna is lucky to find a large feed it may sustain it for many weeks before needing to feed again.

Reproduction

Lace monitors reach sexual maturity at about 4 to 5 years of age, breeding takes place in spring or early summer.  4-6 weeks after mating, the female will lay 6-12 eggs in a hole in the ground or if available in a termite mound. The eggs are elongated, parchment-like, and about 5 cm long. If the eggs are laid in the ground, the female will fill the hole with grass or leaf litter. If laid in a termite mound she excavates a hole on the side of the termite mound, lays her eggs and then leaves the termites to reseal the eggs inside the nest. Eggs hatch after 8-10 weeks at which time the female returns to open the termite mound with her strong claws to allow the baby monitors to escape. They are independent as soon as they hatch.

It is interesting to note that the Lace monitor will often use termite mounds found in trees being much safer than on the ground.