Varanus tristis Black-headed Monitor
Also known as:
Freckled Monitor
Subspecies I've seen:
V. t. orientalis
Freckled Monitor
Varanus tristis orientalis Freckled Monitor
Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory, AustraliaNovember 18, 2009
Freckled Monitor (Varanus tristis orientalis)
This lizard crossed our path just as we were pulling into a parking lot to admire a waterfall. After moving off the pavement and into the leaf litter, it paused just long enough for me to get this one photo before heading off into the bush. I had a hard time identifying this lizard, and eventually concluded that it was probably Varanus glebopalma due to the rusty head and long dark tail. Thanks to herpetologist Sam Sweet for correcting this misidentification. I had foolishly thought that “Black-headed Monitors” would have black heads, but it turns out that this common name is really only appropriate for southern populations of this species; the ones in the Kakadu area have brown heads.

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

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