Spencer’s Monitor Fact File
The spencer’s monitor is a large member of the monitor lizard family (varanids) measuring in at 1.2m(4ft) long and weighing up to 6kg (13.2lbs) for larger individuals. Males tend to be larger than females.
Up to 50% of the length of these animals is made up of the tail.
On top these animals are colored grayish-brown with banding of darker colors. The size of the bands is subject to regional variations. The head tends of be darker in color than the rest of the body.
Like other monitor species their tongue is forked to help them smell.
They have large claws which are used to dig their burrows.
The Spencer’s monitor is considered carnivorous. They have a wide ranging diet which may include small mammals, snakes (including venomous species) and lizards. Carrion may also provide a food source.
Their strong digestive system means they can digest almost all of the food they eat.
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Australia is the native home of the spencer’s monitor. Here they can be found in the North of the country on the black soil plains of central Queensland and the Northern Territory.
These animals are restricted to grassland on the treeless black soil plans. This features highly cracked clay soils. Females will move to low ridges to nest.
Mating takes place in August.
From October to November they will deposit their eggs in to a burrow, often near a termite mound. A clutch of eggs may include 11-35 eggs.
Hatching occurs after 90 days. The hatchlings tend to be covered with a pattern of brown and white markings.
Unlike many other monitor species these animals have been recorded to be active by night.
These animals are primarily ground-dwelling and will spend most of their time in a burrow or in a large soil crack.
Predators and Threats
When threatened these animals have been observed to feign death, freezing in one spot and not moving in the hope the predator will move on. Like other monitors they will also hiss and thrash their tail when threatened.
Living on the black soil plains when fleeing a predator they may bury in to one of the cracks and wedge themselves there making it difficult for the threat to remove them.
Juvenile individuals are more inclined to climb trees or overhanging rocks to escape threats.
Some of these are poached for the illegal wildlife trade.
They may inadvertently be poisoned after foraging baits which were intended to control dingo populations.
Cane toads are seen as an increasing threat to this species as they consume them and are then poisoned.
These animals may also be referred to as the plains goanna.
Spencer’s monitor was named for an English-Australian biologist, Walter Baldwin Spencer.
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Ceratodromeus. 2021. Spencer’s Monitor – Varanus spenceri | The World of Animals. [online] Available at: <https://theworldofanimals.proboards.com/thread/1231/spencers-monitor-varanus-spenceri> [Accessed 16 April 2021].
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Blacksnakeproductions.com.au. 2021. Spencer’s Monitor Lizard: Behaviour and Characteristics | Black Snake Productions. [online] Available at: <https://blacksnakeproductions.com.au/spencers-monitor-lizard-behaviour-and-characteristics/> [Accessed 16 April 2021].
Australia’s Wildlife. 2021. Spencer’s Monitor – Australia’s Wildlife. [online] Available at: <https://australiaswildlife.com/site-contents/fact-sheets-australian-animals-plants/australian-reptiles/lizards/goannas/spencers-monitor/> [Accessed 16 April 2021].
Shea, G., Hobson, R. & Amey, A. 2018. Varanus spenceri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T83778868A101752365. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T83778868A101752365.en. Downloaded on 15 April 2021.
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