The lace monitor, Varanus varius, is native to Australia and found in Queensland, down to New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Their closest relative is the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis of Indonesia). They are also known as tree goanna or lacy. These lizards can reach 2 m in length. They are solitary, diurnal creatures and are active from September to May.
Their diet comprises insects, small mammals, birds, eggs, reptiles, snakes and carrions. They can be found in hollow logs, in tree branches or under logs. Like snakes, they flick their forked tongues to taste the air while hunting. These lizards congregate around picnic sites, camp sites and rubbish tips to scavenge. Chicken coops in farms are also their favourite targets. They are apex predators and only fall prey to crocodiles or dingoes. Australian aboriginal peoples catch monitors which descend from trees to prepare traditional foods. Ground lizards are avoided as the meat may taste unpleasant after feeding on carrions.
Females lay their eggs in termite mounds and return to the site to release the new hatchlings by digging the termite mounds with sharp claws.
John Fowler’s post on this monitor lizard is very informative and illuminating to readers.
Wong Kais encountered a lacy monitor in Healesville Sanctuary on 29 October 2015.
Video 1 by Wong Kais. Healesville Sanctuary 29 October 2015.
In Singapore, Varanus salvator, the Asian Water Monitor Lizard, is quite similar to the Varanus varius in many ways. View the two videos below to look for similarities and differences between the two species of varanids.
Video 2 by Wong Kais. Jurong Lake Gardens, Singapore. 4 February 2022.
Video 3 by Wong Kais. Jurong Lake Gardens, Singapore. 4 February 2022.
The Varanus salvator, a monitor lizard found in Singapore has been documented feeding on a macaque https://besgroup.org/2019/12/07/malayan-water-monitor-scavenging-a-decomposing-macaque/ and on a red-eared slider https://besgroup.org/2019/11/09/malayan-water-monitor-caught-a-red-eared-slider/
- Wildlife of Australia by Iain Campbell and Sam Woods © 2013
- Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin © 2007
Article by Teo Lee Wei