Lace Monitor - Varanus varius

goanna
photo by Barry Chick

The Lace Monitor, or Lace Goanna, Varanus varius, is a member of the monitor lizard family, commonly known as goannas in Australia. This is a derivation of ‘iguana’ which the early settlers applied (mistakenly) to the large lizards they saw.

The Lace Monitors are the most common goanna in Australia and are found, usually near the coast, from Cape York, down the East coast, round to South Australia. They are the second-largest monitor in Australia after the Perentie. They can be as long as 2.1 metres with a head and body length of up to 77 cm. The tail is long and slender and about 1.5 times the length of the head and body.

Their patterning consists of white spots, blotches or bands on their body. Their diet typically consists of insects, reptiles, small mammals, birds and birds’ eggs. It’s these last items that put them at odds with homeowners: the goanna, like the dingo, is very partial to chickens and chicken eggs, and his powerful limbs and claws can make short work of a chicken wire enclosure. We’re not quite sure what this fellow was after, but Barry came across him inside a garden chain-link fence and he was loooking for a way out.

The aboriginals valued goanna fat as a medicine and Cornelius Joseph Marconi started marketing his “Goanna Liniment” and “Goanna Salve” in 1910, incorporating goanna fat, eucalyptus oil and the ingredients of a charlatan’s herbal snake-bite cure. It rapidly became a popular cure-all used for aching limbs through to cleaning guns! Modern environmental concerns have overtaken the original recipe and no goannas have been used in its manufacture for many years. Thanks to modern labelling laws the recipe is no longer totally secret - it is now made out of oil of wintergreen, camphor, eucalyptus oil, pine oil, peppermint, menthol, and some secret herbs and spices!.

wikipedia   Wikipedia article on the Lace Monitor

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