Australian Animals
and Birds

Some True Facts
about the

- Goanna -

Also known as
The Lace Monitor Lizard

Goannas grow large and can reach 2 metres (over 6 feet) from nose to tail tip. They got their name in the time when people first landed in Australia and saw them. They thought they were related to iguanas - but they're not. They're a kind of Monitor lizard.

Normally they wander around with all four feet on the ground, flicking their tongue in and out to taste the air in their hunt for food. They enjoy eating smaller lizards, eggs, insects, mice and other small mammals, and will also eat dead animals (carrion) too. You often find them looking to see what they can find around camping grounds.

When frightened, they will get up on their hind legs and run fast. They live in burrows, which they dig out, but if these are not nearby they will climb a tree and try to remain on the side away from the potential attacker. They are also good swimmers.

You can find Goannas almost anywhere in Australia, particularly in scrubland, woods or grassland where the soil is sandy and they can dig up their food and create their burrows.

Sometimes female Goannas will dig holes in termite mounds and lay their eggs inside. The termites then seal the mound up again and keep the eggs at a constant temperature. When the little ones hatch, they can dig their way out, but when their mother thinks it's about hatching time they often return and break the termite nest open again to help their offspring escape.

If you cornered a goanna, and it could not see a way of escape, it would rear up and could do you a lot damage with its claws, and give hefty blows with its tail.

Aboriginal people like to cook them in a pit and eat them.