The Goanna – listed as “Endangered” Posted on 2 Jun 11:10

Written by: Tzar the Paddington Poodle.   

 Claw the Goanna, one of the stars in my book “The Adventures of Tzar the Paddington Poodle, Goanna Encounter” due for release July 2016, is one of several Australian monitor lizards that are endemic this great country.

It wouldn’t be an outback trip if we didn’t come across a Goanna or two. Mind you, Goannas can be found throughout Australia so you have a good chance to see them on your travels. Lucky for me, I have come across quite a few of these harmless yet interesting creatures.  My last encounter was with a fine-looking lace monitor when the folks, Ziggy and I stopped for lunch in the beautiful village of Byron Bay in the northern rivers area of NSW.  It was obvious that the Goanna was comfortable around humans, because it slowly made its way through the centre of the restaurant without a care in the world.  At one stage, I thought it was going to pull up a chair and join us for a bite.  Now I know what you’re thinking, that we were lunch, but the truth is that these lizards are generally harmless. It had it eye on the piece of chicken we had on our plates and NOT us.

I always feel very privileged to come across our wildlife especially when I get to see them in the wild and not locked up in a Zoo. Mind you, I am not at all adverse to Zoo’s, they have a very important role to play in the preservation of the animal species especially those who can no longer survive in their natural habitat. 

Now I know some of you may be terrified of these carnivorous beasts but they play a very, very important role in balancing our ecology.  They are one of the few remaining large predators on this great southern land.  Interesting tidbit: The favourite source of food for Goannas in the northern areas of Australia are crocodile eggs.  In fact over 90% of crocodile eggs never hatch because their natural predator is the Goanna.  Who said nature doesn’t balance itself.  Unfortunately, the toxic Cane toad is wiping out big lizards across the north and there is an expectation that the crocodile population will explode in the future!

Like all endangered animals, it breaks my heart to tell you that the iconic Goanna is on the decline.  I am deeply saddened to think that our children’s children may only get to know them through folklore and not in the wild like I have.

Conservation Status of Australian goannas

  • The reptiles including the goannas and mammals of the Kimberley and are facing serious population crashes at the hands of that particularly dangerous invasive species, the cane toad.
  • All goannas are under threat and are listed “Vulnerable to Endangered”
  • The main driver of the decline of this species habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation through;
    •  land clearance and grazing
    • Removal of termite mounds and fallen trees and logs from bush- and grazing-land.
    • Cane toad – for our northern goannas
    • High road mortality especially in areas with sealed roads and higher speed limits.

Here are a few facts about these iconic Australian lizards:

  • There are 25 species of goanna in Australia and about 30 in the world.
  • The goanna features prominently in Aboriginal mythology and Australian folklore.
  • Goannas are predatory lizards and eat any animal it can catch and will also eat carrion, carcasses of dead animals and are attracted to rotten meat.
  • Goannas lay eggs in a nest or burrow, but some species lay their eggs inside termite mounds.
  • Unlike some other species of lizards, goannas do not have the ability to regrow limbs or tails.
  • The biggest Australian goanna is the perentie which can reach up to 2.5 metres in length and is found in the dry inland areas of Australia.
  • The Lace goanna is the second biggest Australian goanna and can grow up to 2 metres in length. It is found on the eastern seaboard of Australia.
  • The most common goanna is the Sand monitor which is sometimes called Goulds Goanna or another name is Racehorse Goanna.
  • The smallest goanna reaches only 20 cm in length and is the short-tailed monitor.
  • Goannas are found throughout most of Australia, except Tasmania.
  • Goanna rear up on their hind legs to scare off their attackers.
  • Termite mounds are used to incubate eggs and food for the new born.

 Classification

  • Kingdom:      Animalia
  • Phylum:        Chordata
  • Class:           Reptilia
  • Order:           Squamata
  • Suborder:     Scleroglossa
  • Family:         Varanidae
  • Genus:         Varanus
  • Species:       V. varius

 References

http://projectkimberley.org/news/goanna-sperm

http://www.outback-australia-travel-secrets.com/goannas-monitor-lizards.html

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/savingourspeciesapp/project.aspx?ProfileID=10826