Unexpected Encounters with Australian Reptiles #4 - Mitchells Water Monitor (Varanus mitchelli )

Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 13:40


As the name suggests, the Mitchells Water Monitor loves the water. The monitor is semi-aquatic, a strong swimmer and seldom far from water. It is often seen basking on mid-stream rocks and logs, and on branches overhanging swamps, lagoons and waterways throughout its range. The monitors have a special valve in their nostrils that closes when they dive. Their nostrils are also on the top of their head, like a crocodile’s, so that they can stay partially submerged in the water when searching for prey.

The Mitchells Water Monitor, like other water monitors such as the Mertens, has a laterally compressed tail, which acts like a rudder when swimming.

Mitchells Water Monitor is a carnivore and will eat any small creatures it can find in the water, such as frogs, fish, crabs and small mammals. Plus it will also forage on land for small mammals, birds, eggs and even insects. The monitor is threatened by cane toads, because if it eats them it can die.

When disturbed it drops into the water where it can stay submerged for long periods.

These two bad boys may well be familiar to visitors to Galvin's Gorge on the Gibb River Road. I found them sunning themselves by the main creek, not far from the waterfall. Prime examples of Mitchells they are.

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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