Call That a Lizard? This Is a Lizard!

I know, I’ve used this Crocodile Dundee phraseology before. I’ve used it in You Call That a Mushroom? This is a Mushroom! I’ve also used this misquote in my post called Call That a Park? This Is a Park!

Then in my post about the Akubra Hat, I included the video of Crocodile Dundee from the film, and that shows I’ve got the quote totally wrong anyway.

But I’m going to stick with it, and it’s very suitable for the subject of today’s post….

The Goanna

Goannas are also known as monitor lizards. Around these parts, one of the more common species is called a lace monitor, sometimes referred to simply as lacies.

They are very big lizards indeed. The lacie is one of the bigger ones, and can grow up to 2 metres in length.

goannaPhoto Credit: cskk via Compfight cc

In an ideal world, I would have really loved to have seen one of these creatures in the wild, taking photographs and even video footage to put here on Bobinoz. I’ve been here over five years now though and sadly, I’ve not yet seen one…… yet.

They are about though, I have heard of two sightings just about 3 kilometres away from where I live, close to the river and in amongst a bit of bush down that way.

There are quite a few other places to see them around Brisbane, for example, the D’Aguiler National Park which, by coincidence, you can read about in the already mentioned Call That a Park? This Is a Park!

You might also come across a goanna on Stradbroke Island, Bribie Island, Mount Coot-tha, Mount Mee and further away, Springbrook National Park.

All up, around the world, there are 30 different species of goanna, Australia has 25 of them, 19 of those can be found here in Queensland. Goannas can be found all over Australia, except for Tasmania.

Here in Brisbane, we have three species; the already mentioned Lace Monitor, then we have Gould’s Goanna and the Yellow-spotted Monitor.

They are beautiful creatures, as you will see in a minute, and they can run really fast too. Apparently, if they want to run really really fast, they have been known to sprint over short distances on just their hind legs.

These guys were lucky enough to see one when they were camping…

Goannas tend to keep their distance from humans, although they will get close if there is food about. If they get spooked though, they will run off, but if cornered, or if they feel threatened, they will rear up and puff themselves out a bit and hiss.

A bit like the blue tongued lizard.

If provoked, they could also give you a nasty bite. There is also growing popularity for the theory that goannas are venomous; those who have been bitten do bleed more than you would expect. Research is now looking into whether this venom can be used in the control of high blood pressure.

Go goanna!

They will also get rather cheesed off if you try and pick one up. They have very powerful claws, which they usually use for climbing trees, but can use in other ways as Andrew Ucles found out…

Yes, that was one of those “don’t try this at home” videos, if you see a goanna running away from you, I suggest you just let it go.

Despite the pain caused to Andrew by this goanna, well he did ask for it, I think these creatures are one of Australia’s little beauties.

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Chris October 25, 2018, 7:56 pm |

    Hi, just saw five goannas in like 20 minutes at walkabout creek reserve, literally on the trail.

    • BobinOz October 26, 2018, 5:50 pm |

      That’s a lot of goannas! Didn’t see any last time I was there, but I haven’t been for a long time. Maybe I should go back for a walk about myself.

  • Clive August 18, 2015, 9:21 pm |

    About 8 years ago I saw a large lizard (2 m) in the middle of Perth /Lancelin Road about 5 km South of Lancelin.
    It was frozen in his movement and because he was standing on all 4s his head was about shoulder height. (I was told he was a perentie because he was standing)
    That fellow was way out of his territory surely?

    • BobinOz August 19, 2015, 12:48 am |

      Yes, sounds like he was, you really should have moved him along, told him to skedaddle.

      Then we would have found out whose territory it really was 🙂

  • Rowena Margetts March 27, 2015, 10:11 am |

    We live slightly north of Brisbane, over the road from what used to be a lovely fair sized patch of bush (till that white elephant train line started) and anyway apparently our neighbours saw a 7 foot goanna walk calmly across the road – stopping traffic – and into OUR YARD! We have a large shrubby garden and many birds in aviaries and I must admit I am going to be a little nervous for a while when gardening. Wish I’d seen it though!

    • BobinOz March 27, 2015, 9:22 pm |

      Ah, you probably will see it, when you’re least expecting it 🙂

  • julie r March 9, 2015, 7:01 am |

    Try Nightcap national park. Go to the water tank to wash your hands. There you can see goannas and experience a goanna attack first hand. Stupid tourists have been feeding them, with the rains nd no tourists, the goannas dont have a problem switching from sausages to digits. Yes. They do have venom. No. Hospitals have not been educated either. Good luck with your quest. Try some glasses. Very few areas dont have goannas . Just ask a ranger, they have goanna stories up the whole east.coast.

    • BobinOz March 9, 2015, 4:55 pm |

      Okay, great suggestion, next time I want to get mauled by a hungry goanna, I’ll go over to Nightcap National Park, it’s not that far from me. Thanks for the tip 🙂

  • allan johnson December 31, 2014, 8:59 am |

    hi, i have been searching for information on goannas. i live in rural are subdivided into 14 100 acre holdings. we have several goannas on my block which are regularly seen. my neighbors also report regular sightings. of particular interest is a big fella about 2 metres long. which brings me to my question. what kind of range do these guys cover. is it likely the same animal or would there more than likely several really big ones in 5klm radius.

    • BobinOz March 9, 2015, 4:51 pm |

      That’s strange, I’m sure I answered your comment ages ago Allan, but I’ve just noticed there’s nothing here. Anyway, all I know about these things is they are very mobile and quite fast, so it’s just as likely that it’s the same one within this kind of radius, although I couldn’t know for sure.

      I wouldn’t mind betting these things are territorial as well, which would suggest that yes, it is the same one, but if anyone knows anything different, we’d love to hear it.

  • Angela Chapman November 12, 2013, 9:25 am |

    I from Greater Western Sydney area and i recently came a cross a large lizard, there is a lot of dense bush near wear i live, not like normal sort of backyard lizard, this one was coming up was able lift up lids of small bins and get scraps of food and it had really cool type monitor walk to it. I was wanting to know could it be a monitor, i did not get a photo, it looked a bit scary but really cool at the same time, i reckon this lizard could eat a small cat and it climbs trees as well and had sharp claws, not the sort of lizard you want to pick up 🙂

    • BobinOz November 12, 2013, 9:29 pm |

      Sounds like a lace monitor lizard to me Angela, did it look like the big thing in the video? And no, I wouldn’t try to pick it up, or throw any small cats at it 🙂

  • Nigel March 19, 2013, 10:51 pm |

    We are up mount mee Bob. Fair few monitors roam our land. Totally awesome experience!

    • BobinOz March 20, 2013, 12:42 am |

      Awesome! I know I will see one one day, I was told there was one up Camp Mountain Lookout, but I was unlucky when I went. I’ll keep trying!

  • john February 22, 2013, 8:37 pm |

    Hi, if you re-read what I wrote, I wrote that 1 in 4 have a serious reaction to the poly-antivenom, not that 1 in 4 die from it.
    Death if it happens will be from anaphalatic shock is what I was told too (by the demonstrator whose courses I went on) More unexpected news to me was that without death or anaphalatic shock, a serious reaction to poly-antivenom can leave people with neuro/nerve disorders. I think the 1 in 4 information I was told related to serious reactions, although what constitutes a serious reaction, or nerve damage, could be subjective I suppose.

    • BobinOz February 26, 2013, 5:37 pm |

      Sorry John, yes, so you did. That’s a good example of my “speed reading” gone wrong 🙂 but with a one in four serious reaction, sounds pretty risky having this antivenom, so, as you say, much better (if you can help it) to not get bitten at all.

      Thanks for clearing that up for me, Bob

  • john February 16, 2013, 5:36 am |

    I’m surprised you’ve not seen lace monitors in the wild since you obviously get out and about, They are present at Mt Cootha botanic gardens near the lake; Noosa National Park also a good place.

    Bit of trivia – A study not so long ago has show goannas have venom too (like snakes), only they don’t have the fangs of snakes to deliver it. They can bite though and if they drew blood or you have an open cut they can transfer some venom from their mouth parts to your blood, although not in the direct manner of a snake with fangs.

    Just last week i went on two wildlife handing courses; its correct as you point out that monitors are a hand full to handle. Even relatively small ones, it takes two people, one to hold while the other puts a bag/towel near its mouth to give it something to chew on in its anger. they defecate on you if they can, they claw you and their claws are sharp, and if you hold it correctly so it can’t claw you it will whip with you with its tail, they are really like dinosaurs. You wouldn’t want to have to get a big one of out a tent if you were camping.

    I also handled venomous snakes at the 2nd session. How many of the world’s top ten most venomous snakes like in QLD? Answer: all ten. With a hook and a bag on a handle, getting an Eastern Brown to go into a bag it doesn’t want to go into is a interesting experience. lol. Seriously though I learnt a lot, one thing I didn’t know is if a snake bites you and draws blood and you don’t know the species, the emergency services will give you a poly-anti venom, 1 in 4 people have serious reactions to the anti-venom, it can leave people with nerve disorders, or even death. Its simply best not to get bitten. And actually deaths from snake bites are rare here. One or two a year which is nothing compared to say, road accident fatalities here or back in the UK, and yet we all get in cars.

    • BobinOz February 18, 2013, 2:32 pm |

      If I was camping and there was one in my tent, I’d be the one getting out! Yes, these things are a handful and I definitely wouldn’t be trying to pick one up. I do want to see one though, and thank you for your tips.

      I’ve been to quite a few places where I would have hoped to have seen them, particularly up in Mt Nebo, no luck though. Mt Cootha botanic gardens near the lake sounds promising though, and not far from me so I will check it out.

      As for this poly antivenom, I assume you mean polyvalent antivenom which is usually given where the identity of the snake is not known. I think it’s a mixture of all the other snake antivenoms and is given in larger doses, so the chances of a bad reaction are higher.

      I think it’s possible to be allergic and therefore suffer anaphylactic shock after being given any antivirus, but I’d be really surprised if the death rate from polyvalent antivenom is anywhere near as bad as one in four. I’d be interested to hear where you heard that figure.



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