Sunday, 18 December 2011

Goanna (aka Lace Monitor)

Goanna ornamenting our tree

We live in topical highlands where heat and humidity are less oppressive than on the tropical coast. I am a wimp when it comes to either high heat and humidity or very low temperatures. Like Goldilocks, I feel best when things are Just Right.

Each morning of summer, we throw open doors and windows to capture as much early morning cool as possible. As the day warms, we close up the house to retain that coolness. Fans stir the air as the coolness disappears. At the end of the day, when the temperature drops and darkness takes over, we feel torn between opening the house for cooler air and keeping the house closed against the multitude of insects attracted to any lights. We've switched to yellow lights for the summer but even those attract some insects.

Since we took the dog off her diet of mince laced with sulfites, she isn't reacting as frantically to thunderstorms. We've developed additional strategies to deal with her nervousness. She calms down a bit if we attach her lead to her collar and turn on classical ABC radio. She settles then at our feet. I usually settle down to knit or spin while keeping her company. J settles to ponder, pencil in hand, over his clipboard notes related to his online AI class or his latest project.

Recently, the three of us took up this familiar routine. Settling in. After a bit I stood up to go to the Shed for something. No worries. J and dog not disturbed. I opened the kitchen door, pausing as usual to scan the path for snakes before stepping outside. A large goanna paused in mid-stride only a few feet away, as surprised as I was. Big goanna! I yelped. The dog picked up on my tone and began barking madly. Goanna (3 feet long and 20 pounds) bolted for nearby tree (trunk 12" in diameter) and went up it in a flash.

An ancient war exists between dogs and reptiles, similar to the one between dogs and donkeys. Donkeys can hold their own, but I'm afraid roaming dogs give goannas grief. We don't see many large goannas. J restrained our dog and handed her over to me as he grabbed the camera.

The goanna looked safe up the tree. Then the birds noticed him. That's another ancient war.

Our friends upriver had goannas regularly dropping by their kitchen area for meat scraps (photo taken in December 2009). Look closely to see a hungry young goanna at the far edge of the step:

Hand feeding goannas is not recommended. Unlike your domesticated dog, the goanna doesn't distinguish between your thumb and a meat scrap. 

Another view of the young goanna at Goanna Tree Junction
What a treat in the lead up to Christmas - getting to see a large adult goanna up close... and feeling glad to know they continue to live in our area. Makes the world feel Just Right.

Respect the Claw!
photos by J in JaM
post and image editing by M in JaM

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