Photo of the week – Black-headed Monitor in Arnhem Land, NT

This photo of a young Black-headed Monitor (Varanus tristis) was taken while volunteering on a recent fauna survey up in Arnhem Land, NT.

Black-headed Monitors grow to a length of 50 to 80cm, making them relatively small by monitor standards. While they may be on the petite side (don’t mention that to them by the way…) they more than impress with their striking patterning. Luckily, this one was more than happy to show off while soaking up some early-morning sunlight.

Down in our region, we more commonly call our monitors ‘goannas’. The Heath Goanna (V. rosenbergi) and Sand Goanna (V. gouldii) are much larger species growing to around 1.5 m – although even at that size you’ll be lucky to spot a Heath Goanna (listed as vulnerable in SA). The Lace Monitor (V. varius) is bigger still at up to 2 m and more commonly found further north. These monitors play a vital role in the ecosystem, and down south they are in fact are our only remaining large, native terrestrial predator.

If you’re interested in the Heath Goanna – and want some tips on how to tell it apart from the Sand Goanna and Lace Monitor – there’s a great fact sheet from DEWNR available here.


Varanus tristis

Jonathan Tuck