Varanus gouldii Sand Monitor
Also known as:
Gould’s Monitor, Racehorse Goanna
Subspecies I've seen:
V. g. flavirufus
Sand Monitor
V. g. gouldii
Gould’s Monitor
Varanus gouldii flavirufus Sand Monitor
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, AustraliaFebruary 4, 2003
Sand Monitor (Varanus gouldii flavirufus)
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 Gould’s Monitor
Peron National Park, Western Australia, AustraliaNovember 13, 2005
Gould’s Monitor (Varanus gouldii gouldii)
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, AustraliaNovember 13, 2005
Gould’s Monitor (Varanus gouldii gouldii)
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, AustraliaNovember 14, 2005
Gould’s Monitor (Varanus gouldii gouldii) Gould’s Monitor (Varanus gouldii gouldii)
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, AustraliaNovember 22, 2009
Gould’s Monitor (Varanus gouldii gouldii)
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.

I’ve written up an account of this three-week trip to Australia here.

Peron National Park, Western Australia, AustraliaNovember 24, 2009
Gould’s Monitor (Varanus gouldii gouldii)
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, AustraliaOctober 21, 2015
Gould’s Monitor (Varanus gouldii gouldii)
The official park brochure description of this trail includes the sentence "This hike incorporates excellent reptile habitat", and it lived up to its description. After having already encountered a Shingleback (#17), an Eastern Striped Skink, an Eastern Blue-tongued Skink, many Tawny Dragons, some Tree Skinks, and some Flinders Ranges Masked Rock-skinks, I turned a corner and saw this fine monitor lizard paused on the trail.
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