Some other names for this species:
Gould’s Monitor, Racehorse Goanna
Subspecies I've seen:
Varanus gouldii flavirufus
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia—February 4, 2003
Ah, my first Australian "goanna". This beautiful lizard was spotted along the side of a dirt road by our Australian friends Martin Cohen and Julia Cooper. Sand monitors range throughout nearly all of Australia, but normally they don't let you get quite this close.
Australian monitor lizards are often called "goannas". The word "goanna" is believed to be an old corruption of "iguana", probably given by early European travellers who were familiar with the common iguanas of the Americas but were not familiar with other large lizards.
Martin and Julia now run Wild About Australia, so others can benefit from their wildlife expertise as I did.
Here is a complete list of the reptiles and frogs I saw on this trip to Australia.
Varanus gouldii gouldii
Peron National Park, Western Australia, Australia—November 13, 2005
Another roadside goanna. This one is a moment away from disappearing into its burrow along the side of one of the four-wheel-drive tracks on the Peron peninsula.
Eagle Bluff, near Denham, Western Australia, Australia—November 13, 2005
Sand monitors abound on the red sand desert around Shark Bay on Australia's west coast. We probably saw twenty or so in less than four days. The one pictured here is on the berm of the dirt track leading to Eagle Bluff. It warily let me take this photo from my car window, but when I tried to get out of the car it raced off.
Here is a complete list of the reptiles and frogs I saw on this trip to Western Australia.
Peron National Park, Western Australia, Australia—November 14, 2005
These two were among the many goannas hanging out on or near the grounds of the old Peron Homestead.
Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Western Australia, Australia—November 22, 2009
We saw about the same number of these monitors on this trip as we had on the previous trip, but they were even more easily spooked this time. I could only get a few halfway decent photos, and those only from inside our rental car.
After taking this photo, I slowly got out of the car to try to approach more closely, but the lizard had other ideas, and raced off.
Ive written up an account of this three-week trip to Australia here.
Peron National Park, Western Australia, Australia—November 24, 2009
Our favorite view of a Varanus gouldii on this trip was of this handsome fellow just getting out of bed in the morning.
Mt. Ohlssen-Bagge, Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia, Australia—October 21, 2015
- Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia, Seventh Edition
- Hoser, R. T. 1989. Australian Reptiles & Frogs
- Pianka, E. R., King, D. R., King, R. A. 2004. Varanoid Lizards of the World
- Swan, G. 1995. A Photographic Guide to Snakes & Other Reptiles of Australia
- Wilson, S. K., Knowles, D. 1988. Australia's Reptiles: A Photographic Reference to the Terrestrial Reptiles of Australia
- Wilson, S. and Swan, G. 2017. A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia, Fifth Edition