Backyard Buddies
Lace Monitor

Photo: Sarah Brookes/OEH

Lace Monitor

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Lace Monitors live in eastern Australian forests and coastal tablelands. They spend most of their time in trees, coming down to hunt for food and to breed. They move with sudden speed when threatened.

Warm weather helps reptiles like the Lace Monitor (a type of goanna) to become more active, as they're solar powered. In order to move quickly, they need sunlight and warmth to heat them up.

Look out for Lace Monitors at your next picnic. They often hang around rest spots in national parks where walkers stop to eat. Lace Monitors sometimes even forage in trash cans for something to nibble.

Apart from nabbing a few leftovers, Lace Monitors eat insects, reptiles, small mammals, birds, birds' eggs and carrion. They can even smell out prey hiding underground, dig it up and eat it - all before the prey can get away.

From September to December, Lace Monitors are going to be looking for a mate...and termite nests.

During spring or summer, the female Lace Monitor lays 4 to 14 eggs inside a termite nest. The termites seal up the entry hole and the heat of the nest incubates the eggs. This also has another benefit, because inside the nest, the eggs are safe from predators.

As soon as the eggs hatch, baby Lace Monitors will fend for themselves. There is usually no parental care at all for them, so they must escape the nest on their own if they can. To protect themselves from predators, they hide in a nearby tree and act highly aggressively.

After about four to five years, Lace Monitors are fully grown and will begin to mate.

Lace Monitors are usually dark grey to black and have creamy-yellow coloured bands along their bodies. They also have black bars across their faces and necks.

In the drier parts of New South Wales and Queensland, Lace Monitors have broad black and yellow bands across their body and tail, which are made up of various spotted patterns.

Did you know?

If the female Lace Monitor can't find a termite nest to lay her eggs in, she will nest in a hole in the ground and fill it with grass or leaf litter. The heat from the decomposing vegetation keeps the eggs warm.

Monitors are the only lizards that have a forked tongue.

Tip

If you go for a walk through bushland during the cooler months of the year, watch where you step. Lace Monitors spend much of this time hiding under logs or rocks, or inside hollow tree stumps.

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Photo: OEH