Healesville Sanctuary

Lace Monitor

Visitors to Healesville Sanctuary are enthralled by these agile creatures.

Lace Monitors are not classified as a threatened species. Although the species is not considered to be vulnerable, they suffer during natural disasters, as humans and other animals do. A Lace Monitor (‘Lex’) was among the many animals taken into and cared for by the sanctuary’s Australian Wildlife Health Centre after the 2009 Black Saturday fires.

Meeting the Lace Monitors at Healesville Sanctuary is an important way to connect with the animals of Australia, and to learn about the Sanctuary’s conservation programs, especially those aimed at conserving threatened native species. The money you spend helps to support the Sanctuary’s conservation programs and its care of native wildlife, as well as fight species extinction. 

Lace Monitors are found throughout the east coast of Australia and around to south-eastern South Australia.

Adults are 1.5 to 2 metres long. The tail is very long – longer than the head and body combined. They can weigh up to 20kg.

They are blue-grey with a creamy yellowy white underside.

They have a long forked tongue. Lace Monitors have a nasty bite, and it is now thought that their bite is venomous. (While they are technically venomous they pose no threat to human life.)

The live in forests and coastal tableland habitats.

Lace Monitors rely heavily on their strong claws and agility. When threatened they head for the nearest tree and climb to safety.

They eat insects, birds, small mammals, eggs and small reptiles. They are known to scavenge around bins in picnic and camping areas. They also eat carrion – the dead bodies of other animals.

Lace Monitors lead solitary lives except during the breeding season. They have an ingenious approach to incubating their eggs. The female makes a hole in a termite mound and lays her eggs inside (from 4 to 14 eggs). The termites repair the hole and the eggs lie undisturbed and at a constant temperature until they are ready to hatch, about 9 months later. They are released when the female returns to lay the next season’s eggs.