Varanus giganteus (GRAY 1845)

V. giganteus
Alice Springs NT
V. giganteus
Hamersley, WA

Varanus giganteus is the largest monitor in Australia. It is a member of the subgenera Varanus.
The coloration on the
back is mainly brown, with rows of greatly cream-colored to yellowish spots, which are ordered in rows across the back and the tail. Every bright spot is enclosed by a deep brown or black edge. The black borders on the nape of the neck form a reticulation at the sides, which also extends over the head and throat. The limbs are deep brown with cream-colored or yellow spots. The coloration of the lower side is whitish. In youngsters the back colaration is very intensive, however the contrast becomes poorer with age. A temporal stripe isn't available. The head scales are small, smooth and irregular. The nostril is situated at the side, it is approximately twice as far away from the eye than to the tip of the snout. 240-290 scale rows are around midbody. The tail is squeezed together strongly at the side unless at the base with a clearly visible double keel on the lower half. The length is approximately 1.3 times the SVL. The tail scales are not keeled. Since the scales of the tail underside are greater than that one of the top side, they are ordered in irregular rings. The average total length is about 160 cm, but animals with more as 200 cm total length were already reported.

Distribution, habitat and behavior


giganteusThe distribution of Varanus giganteus extends from Mt. Isa in the east across the center of the continent to the west coast between Carnarvon and Port Headland. Its distribution goes down to Coober Pedy in the south and Tennant Creek in the north. The Perentie is an excellent climber in rocky area, however, you can also observe him in dune areas. But from medium-sized to large Rocky Outcropss are his natural habitat, where he can look for hiding-places within the crevices or dig large holes (MERTENS 1942d, 1958, KEAST 1959, WORRELL 1966, BUSTARD 1968, SWANSON 1976, STORR 1980, STORR et al. 1983b, WILSON & KNOWLES 1988, HOSER 1989, COGGER 1992, EHMANN 1992). The food consists of bigger vertebrates, like rabbit or other reptiles, in the main thing but also big insects are eaten. Occasionally carrion is also on the menu of V. giganteus (LOSOS & GREENE 1988).

Keeping and breeding

giganteusBecause the size of this species only retile parks, zoos, or private keepers wit huge enclosures are able to keep these monitors.
For this enclosure we use sand as substrate. As hiding-places we offer rock piles, which however must be connected to each other well to prevent that the monitors could let them break down during their digging activities..
The captive husbandry has been described already, but all present successes happened in Australia. There the animals are kept in large out door enclosures under their natural climate and photoperiod conditions. Under these circumstances a successful keeping and breeding is not really a problem.
V. giganteus dug their eggs under the rocks. After they were removed, they were incubated at temperatures between 30 and 32°C (BREDL 1987, BREDL & HORN 1987). The young animals hatched after an incubation period of 228-235 days. The coloration and pattern of the youngsters was extremely intensive. They had a total length of about 37.5 cm and weighted about 40 g at hatching. The rearing was easy.