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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Goanna roaming on Tallowa Dam road.

Down in the Kangaroo Valley last weekend, on the Tallowa Dam Road, we saw three Goannas within one kilometre. Two were large, almost scary I would have to say.

Goannas are technically known as Lace Monitors, or Varanus varius.


Goanna up a small tree.
The first was on the road, and it made its way straight up a tree. That is normal Goanna behaviour, as far as I know. At first it climbed about 4 metres high. Then it seemed to get a bit nervous as I was busy trying to get a good shot of it. So it climbed a bit further. I would estimate that it was nearly 2 metres long. 
It had a large prominent abdomen. I have no idea what it had in its stomach, but there is a prominent ridge visible in its stomach, so I can only guess that it had recently consumed something with a long tail - most likely a large snake. But that is a guess.
Look at the extended belly. Lunch might have been a snake.

Varanus varius head and front feet claws

Second Goanna - roaming actively.
We continued down the road and saw an even larger Goanna. I would say this one was over 2.5 metres head to tail. Look at the length of the neck and the size of the head - side on. It was roaming actively, just off the road, on a lower level than the road. 
Early in our encounter, it came close up, towards me, and believe me, I was nervous. Its tongue was flicking out, repeatedly "tasting the air".  Fortunately there was a broken shrub between the Goanna and me.
Tongue flicking is the way Goannas "sniff out their prey"
It then turned back and continued roaming actively on the rock shelf below the road edge. I am glad it decided not to keep coming towards me - knowing the size of the claws on the other Goanna.

 From the sublime to the ridiculous, we saw a small young Goanna on the road. Kirsten stopped ot prevent running over it, and it ran under her car, as another car approached - on this fairly busy road. It must then have scampered off, for we did not see it again. It had a small forked tongue, just like the adult I had just seen.


Three Goannas in one kilometre of road is pretty amazing.

5 comments:

mick said...

Those first two are big fellows! I like the photo with the long tongue flicking out. I have been at picnic areas where they have become used to people and come right up looking for handouts or dropped rubbish. Frightening beasties up close!

Le Loup said...

Good images, well done.
http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/

Miss Eagle said...

What a party could have been had on that stretch of road. Went with a group of people on a goanna hunt in the NT some years ago. Champion female Aboriginal goanna hunter and her trusty dog. We got two. One to eat on the spot and the other to take home. Teresa gutted the beastie and sewed him back together with sharpened sticks. We travelled in a Super Trooper with the side seats so a number of us sat in the back with the homeward bound goanna on the floor at our feet. Goanna is tasty - sort of like a greasy chicken.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Le Loup. You might note Miss Eagle's comments about "bush Tucker". Not sure you qualify to be able to claim traditional hunting rights.
Interesting story Miss Eagle. No wonder you get so misty eyed when thinking of Territory Days.
I thought the second Goanna was trying to work out if my leg would taste like Greasy Chicken. I certainly have heard stories about them mistaking people legs for tree trunks, and trying to climb up them, and I did not want to deal with those mighty claws.
Impressive creatures, both of them.
Le Loup, my longer lens is broken at present, so I was very disappointed with missing a really clear shot of the Goanna when it was circling around in the bush below the road. At least I got the tongue. Even that is pretty scary. About 5 inches in the old money, and it was really working hard, scenting the air.
Cheers
Denis

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick.
Only just found your comment. Sorry for delay.
.
Your comment puts "Please do not feed the Seagulls" in the shade. A "Tame Goanna" is not trustworthy, that's for sure.
.
That's as close as I wish to come to a Dinosaur!
Cheers
Denis