The Largest Monitor Lizard in Australia, the Perentie
The Perentie is both the largest monitor lizard in Australia, and the fourth largest lizard in the world. They are usually found in the arid desert areas of Western Australia, but can also be found in wooded areas and grasslands. Perenties are an uncommon sight in Australia, as they are shy of humans and avoid areas where they live. Their very reclusive nature has kept their numbers relatively strong and unlike some of the other large monitor lizards like the Komodo Dragon, the Perentie is not endangered.
Compared to most lizards, the Perentie is quite large; they usually reach lengths of 6-8 feet long. However, the largest Perentie ever recorded was 8’2 feet long, longer than most land lizards. The majority of their length comes from their tail, which is about half their size. Their average weight is 33 pounds, but exceptionally large individuals can weigh around 44 pounds.
Since the Perentie is shy towards humans, not much is known about how they act socially. Scientists have found that they can stand on their hind legs, which every species from the monitor lizard family can do. The Perentie will stand on their hind legs to look at their surroundings and reach for food. They are fast sprinters, and they can run on either all fours or their hind legs. Perenties usually hole up in burrows during the cold months of the year and are active during the warm summer months. They have very muscular legs and sharp claws that are perfect for digging.
The Perentie is a carnivore that feeds on a wide variety of prey. While they are normally active hunters, they will hide and ambush prey when the need arises. Depending on the size of the Perentie, they hunt everything from insects, lizards, fish, birds, carrion, and small animals such as rats and rabbits. Larger individuals will also hunt large animals like small kangaroos, wombats, and even lone dingoes. They have also been known to hunt and eat people’s pets, such as cats and small to medium size dogs. When a Perentie attacks, it does so by either biting with its strong jaws or whipping the prey with its long powerful tail; their tails are so strong they can easily break a dog’s leg with a single blow. Once they bring their prey down, they shake it to death in their strong jaws and then swallows it whole. They use their tails both offensively and defensively. The Perentie has minimal predators: dingoes, crocodiles and humans.
The Perentie is a beautiful looking lizard, but not one that is suitable to be a pet. Although shy and timid with people, they will defend themselves if threatened and could easily hurt a person with their powerful tail; they are best admired from afar.