Lucas & Frust 1895.
Pygmy desert guanna
This husy little monitor is one of the most widespread of the
pygmy goannas. It lives in desert and semi-desert areas of
Western Australia. Northern Territory and South Australia
but its uccurrem:e in Queensland is uncertain (Pianka 1968;
Houston 1978: Storr 1980: Storr & Harold 1980). This is a ground-loving goanna that is
often common in areas of spinifex, and rarer in mulga-dominated habitats. They reach a
maximum size of 46cm (17cm SVL). A specimen caught in January (9.6cm SVL) weighed
11.8g. A gravid female caught in February (14.4cm SVL) weighed 38.3g (Pianka
The only populations to have been studied are those in the deserts of Western Australia. Here
the pygmy desert goanna is active throughout the year, unlike most of its counterparts. They
reach the peak of their activity during the late winter and early spring. During the summer
they remain below ground during the warmest part of the day and are most active early in the
morning. Mean body temperature of 53 active animals was 37.5°C.
This guanna spend its life on the ground and rarely climbs trees. They prey largely on other
lizards (espedally skinks) but they also eat orthopterans and small numbers of scorpions,
centipedes, roaches and caterpillars. They can cover large distances (almost 1km per day)
exploring burrows in search of prey. They may also hide in spinifex and ambush other lizards
as they pass. In the Great Victoria desert they are often found in the labyrinth-like burrows of Egernia
skinks. Mating occurs in the spring and 3-4 eggs (possibly as many as 6) are laid
around January and February. Preferred nest sites are unknown. The eggs probably hatch
after 3-4 months. Hatchlings measure about 6.5cm SVL and sexual maturity is reached at 11-12cm
SVL (Pianka 1968, 1971, 1982, 1994; Losos & Greene 1988; Thompson & Hosmer1963).
Nothing has been published about the care of this lively little goanna in captivity. A spacious
enclosure (at least 1m2
) with a deep sand substrate should be provided. Males might grow
slightly larger than females but there are no obvious differences between the sexes. Care
should be taken when housing these lizards together because they are undoubtedly
cannibalistic: when given the opportunity. They feed on comparatively large prey in the wild
and should be fed on a diet of big insects and vertebrates.