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Blue-Tongue Lizard
Eastern Water dragon
Goulds Goanna



Video of two goannas fighting.

The smaller goanna eventually gave in and neither were injured

Video by Susanne Ulyatt


By Rhianna Blackthorn

Twenty of the worlds 58 species of Goannas or Monitor Lizards as they are known elsewhere in the world. The largest, and most famous goanna species is the Komodo Dragon of Indonesia. One species of goanna in Australia has become extinct since European settlement. The name Goanna is an Aboriginal word and the Goanna features heavily in Aboriginal dream time stories.

Appearance and Characteristics

They range in size from just 15cms to 1.5 meters excluding the tail length. They have a flattened body, a tail ready to strike at enemies, stout limbs, long digits and sharp claws. Goannas have a long neck with loose skin under the throat which sags in some species 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. They have sharp teeth that are often described as shark like.

Reproductive Cycle

Mating behaviors differ amongst the goanna species, but generally they will produce 3 - 25 eggs which they lay in the soil. They will loosely cover their "clutch" with soil. As with most lizards, they do not actively guard their eggs. The hatchlings break free after incubating, and are independent from birth. In captivity, incubation has taken up to year when kept at a steady temperature of 30 degrees celsius. Incubation times, like clutch sizes vary amongst species.

Diet and Habitat

Goannas find their food by searching widely across the landscape, catching animals by stalking or digging them out of shelters and nests. They primarily prey on birds, snakes and seek the eggs of both. They will also opt for an easy meal and feed on carrion. 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.
Found in all regions of Australia, the Goanna is an excellent climber, and a strong swimmer. Goannas are largely terrestrial and digs its own burrow system but it will readily take refuge in a tree if a burrow is not nearby.

Sharon McGrigor
Sharon McGrigor
Sharon McGrigor
Sharon McGrigor
Katrina Ulyatt
Sharon McGrigor

Updated March 2021  

Webmaster: Susanne Ulyatt

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