Have You Checked Your Sand Lately? The Sand Monitor is on the Job.
This month, the Sand Monitor is expecting hatchlings to emerge. Their mating season happens in November and December, so now is the perfect time of year to keep an eye out in your backyard for little goannas.
Sand Monitors lay an average of 6 eggs per clutch and their young measure between 100-118 mm in body length, not including their tail.
If you think you can't stop eating delicious holiday food around this time of year, rest assured that you are no match for the Sand Monitor. Also known as Gould's Monitors or Racehorse Goannas, these buddies are one of the most relentless seekers of food you'll ever meet.
Anything that is smaller than these pretty big lizards is likely to be scooped up for lunch or dinner. They're not shy about eating other lizards, either.
Digging is this buddy's superpower. Their exceptionally strong legs are just made for this task, and they put their sharp claws and snout to work, too.
They live in burrows, often setting up a home in an abandoned rabbit warren. These burrows do double duty, as protection from the elements and predators. The entrance to the burrow is often concealed behind a fallen log, shrub or rock.
The Sand Monitor is a diurnal species, which means that it is active during the day. So your best bet for spotting this spotted buddy is to be out and about in your garden during sunny summer days.
The Sand Monitor can grow up to 160 cm, but usually average about 150 cm and can weigh as much as 6 kg. It is the second largest monitor species in Australia, after the Perentie, which can be over 2 m long.
The Sand Monitor's beautifully patterned scales set them apart from plainer lizard friends. They are greenish-grey all over, with ringed yellow spots. These lovely spots are most prominent on their tail and lower torso, where they form patterns and bands.
The head of a Sand Monitor resembles that of a snake, and has yellow patterns on the sides. The end of the Sand Monitor's tail is usually white, cream or yellow.
Sand Monitor's have extremely keen noses, and use their long, forked tongues to explore their environment.
When hunting for food, they keep their snout close to the ground, and flick their tongue in and out, transferring scents to their organs. This is how they are able to find any hidden prey that is underground.
Once a Sand Monitor smells something underground, it digs it up and gobbles it quick smart before the prey can run away.
DID YOU KNOW?When it's time to lay eggs, the female sand monitor makes use of a termite mound, digging to the centre and letting the termites reconstruct the mound around the clutch. The termites regulate temperature and humidity of the eggs. Just another of the Sand Monitor's wily ways. Click to watch an Attenborough video of the Lace Monitor doing a similar thing and laying its eggs in a termite mound.
TIPThe Sand Monitor is a very popular choice for a pet in Australia. They are fascinating buddies and can make great company, but as with any pet they are for life, not for Christmas. They require careful care and commitment, so make sure you research what you need to make the Sand Monitor happy and healthy before taking one on as part of your family. Click to read some good information and a care sheet here.