We first saw this tremendous lizard as a large dark shape moving across the (essentially deserted) Lasseter Highway that leads from Uluru back towards Alice Springs. My initial thought when I spotted it in the distance was that it was a medium to large-sized dog. As we got closer its lizardy shape and movements became more obvious, and I became more excited. I had heard that Perenties were extremely wary of people, and likely to race off after detecting a human's presence, but that was not my experience at all. This lizard never sped up faster than a slow amble, though we followed it around for ten to fifteen minutes taking photographs.
Every few minutes it would stop strolling and squat down with its head lifted high, scanning its surroundings. Dr. Nancy Heger of the University of Texas at Austin told me by email that she saw this display quite often in her field studies of this species. She thinks it is probably looking for trouble, including rival perenties, predators, or potential dangers such as mother emus defending their chicks. Dr. Heger also commented that the stance of the strutting perentie in the second photo is typical for a lizard trying to appear big and frightening to thwart any further encounter with a perceived threat (me).
Here is a complete list of the reptiles and frogs I saw on this trip to Australia.
Later I discovered that the Perentie had not been previously recorded from this area, so this sighting extends its known range.
Here is a complete list of the reptiles and frogs I saw on this trip to Western Australia.
- 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. 2003. Reptiles of Australia