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Goanna / Monitor / Perentie

Family Varanidae

Goanna, Monitor, Perentie
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Goanna, Monitor, Perentie
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Goanna, Monitor, Perentie • Varanidae
There are approximately 50 species belonging to the family Varanidae found in Africa, Asia, Western Pacific and Australia, with Australia home to about 26 species.

Described as 'monitors' worldwide, in Australia they are more commonly called 'goannas'. Seen by the early white settlers, the word 'goanna' is thought to have been derived from 'iguana' (which were familiar to them as the lizards found in South America).

Goannas are a varied group of carnivorous reptiles, consuming almost anything that can be caught and eaten. The small species mainly feed on invertebrates, other small reptiles, frogs and bird's eggs. The large goannas are often found scavenging feeding on carrion, especially road kill.

In late 2005, University of Melbourne researchers discovered that perenties and goannas and other monitors are venomous, sharing a common venomous ancestor with snakes.1

Whilst it is rare to see these types of reptiles in major towns and cities, those travelling into Australia's outback region, depending on the time of day and year, will often see a variety of reptiles and if you are lucky, the larger goannas and perenties, especially in the more arid desert regions.

The goanna and perentie are part of the Indigenous culture's bush foods. Up in the northern parts of Australia, they are threatened by the advance of the cane toad, with anecdotal evidence in Queensland showing severe declines in population of a variety of goannas and monitors.2

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Family: Varanidae
Genus: Varanus

Monitor, Goanna, Perentie

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Goannas • Images

Sand Goanna / Gould's Goanna
Gould’s Goanna - Breakaways Reserve, South Australia Sand Goanna (Varanus gouldii flavirufus)  
Perentie (Varanus giganteus) Perentie (Varanus giganteus) - Kings Canyon Perentie (Varanus giganteus) - Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park  


1 Goanna venom rocks the reptile record, The University of Melbourne, UniNews Vol. 14, No. 22, 28 November - 12 December 2005
2 Australian Government > Threatened species & ecological communities: The biological effects, including lethal toxic ingestion, caused by Cane Toads (Bufo marinus). Retrieved 4 August 2012
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