goanna is a kind of lizard.
Goannas are covered in scales.
Goannas eat lizards, the eggs of snakes and lizards,and small animals.
Goannas climb trees, swim, run fast, and can stand on their back legs.
When white people first came to Australia they saw large reptiles they thought were a kind of iguana, and called them 'goanna'. The goanna is in fact not an iguana, but a species of monitor lizard.
The goanna is about 160 cm long altogether. Its head and body measure about 70 cm. Its body is flattened, it has strong legs with long toes and claws. It has a long neck. It can give a fierce blow with its long tail. It has a tongue rather like a snake's, which it flicks in and out.
Goannas climb trees well and swim strongly. They can rear up or run quickly on their hind legs when threatened. They dig a system of burrows. Their habitat is woodland or grassland over much of Australia. In the northern parts of the country, goannas stay active all year round, but in the south they are inactive in the cold months.
The goanna eats lizards, the eggs of lizards and other reptiles, insects, spiders and small mammals.
In the northern part of Australia, goannas breed in the wet season which is in summer, but in the south they breed in spring. After mating, the female lays 3-10 eggs in a deep burrow, then seals it up and hides the entrance.
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Updated 25 October 2000