Perenties are the largest of all the Australian monitor lizards, measuring an impressive 2.5 metres. They can run incredibly fast either on all fours, or just their hind legs. If threatened, they distend a large neck pouch and expel a rattling hiss. Should this dramatic display fail, the perentie lunges forward and strikes its opponent before quickly turning and fleeing to hide in the nearest rocky crevice or burrow. They can even bring down smaller species of kangaroo.
Scientific name: Varanus giganteus
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The Perentie can be found in a number of locations including: Australia. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
The following habitats are found across the Perentie distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
The perentie (or perente) (Varanus giganteus) is the largest monitor lizard or goanna native to Australia, and fourth largest living lizard on earth, after the Komodo dragon, crocodile monitor and the water monitor. Found west of the Great Dividing Range in the arid areas of Australia, they are not a common sight on account of their shyness and remoteness of much of their range from human habitation.
Their status in indigenous Aboriginal culture is evident in the totemic relationships, and part of a dreaming, as well as bush tucker. They were a favoured food item among desert Aboriginal tribes, and the fat was used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Many are depicted in Aboriginal art and their accompanying stories such as the piece ‘Goanna Calling for Rain’ and ‘How the Perentie and Goanna got their Colours’.
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