Spencer’s Monitor - Reptile Encounters

Spencer’s Monitor

Scientific name:

Varanus spenceri

Other names:

Spencer’s goanna


Least Concern, but considered ‘Uncommon’.

Very robust and blunt-headed, getting to around 1.2m in length with a laterally-compressed tail that accounts for about half of this length. Shades of grey to greyish brown with banded patterning, tends to be more v-shaped on the neck. Patterning is far less bold on older individuals.

The treeless, grassy plains on deeply-cracking clay soils known as the Black-soil plains

North-western Qld and across the Barkly Tablelands to the eastern parts of the NT.

Will eat anything they can find, including mammals, smaller lizards, venomous snakes, eggs, and carrion.

Spencer’s monitor is confined to the harsh Black-soil plains; a virtually treeless grassland. As such it is the only Australia monitor species that does not readily climb, although juveniles will climb if threatened and given the opportunity. It patrols these open grasslands looking for anything edible, and is known for being able to completely digest anything it manages to find and consume. This includes some of the world’s most venomous land snakes. When threatened, Spencer’s monitor will hiss loudly, distending the throat and whipping with it’s large tail.

Spencer’s monitors have very large clutches, with up to 30 eggs being laid at a time. It is popular in captivity in Australia as it is typically regarded as less aggressive than other large, powerful monitor species.

The species is named after Sir Walter Blaldwin Spencer, English-Australian evolutionary biologist, anthropologist and ethnologist known for his studies of the indigenous people of Central Australia and for introducing the study of Zoology to the University of Melbourne.

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