We visited Alligator Creek today. It was very beautiful after recent rain and more photos will appear here soon but the goanna we saw in the picnic ground gave us so much pleasure that it should have a post to itself.
It was a Lace Monitor, Varanus varius, and must have been nearly fully grown because it was about 1.7 m long and they only grow to 2.1 m, according to Wilson’s Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland.
It approached us on the ground in their typical straddle-legged waddle, its tongue flickering ahead constantly, ignoring us completely and ignoring the scrub turkey nipping at the tip of its tail. (Why would the turkey do that? Perhaps it thought the tail tip was a prey-sized lizard. Perhaps it was driving the goanna out of its own territory.)
Goannas are “arboreal, foraging widely on the ground but taking to trees if disturbed,” according to Wilson, and I’m sure this one has learned that humans aren’t usually a threat and often leave food behind after their picnics. Perhaps our laughter surprised it, though, because it rushed up a skinny tree and hung there for while, slipping occasionally on the smooth bark, before relaxing enough to turn around and descend head first to the fence rail and then back to earth to continue on its way across the picnic ground.