Distribution: Central Western Australia and Central Australia
Habitat: Arid regions
Description: The Perentie is Australia’s largest lizard. Its body is rich brown with large cream or yellow markings. It has a forked tongue and numerous very sharp, slightly curved teeth. The Perentie also has a strong tail and powerful legs with five, clawed toes.
Diet: Perenties are carnivores and eat a variety of food, including turtle eggs, insects, birds, other reptiles, and small mammals and marsupials. Perenties track their prey by sight or by sensing with their tongue. Once caught, the Perentie will violently shake the prey until it is dead and then swallow it whole.
In the wild: When Perenties feel threatened, they rise up, their throat swells and they hiss. If this fails to scare the predator away, they run away. Its powerful tail may also be used as a means of defence.
Perenties are sometimes hunted for food by man or eaten by Dingos.
At Perth Zoo: Perth Zoo’s Perenties can be seen in the Reptile Encounter. They can be seen inside the exhibit or in a special outdoor exhibit where they bask in the sun.
Did you know? The Perentie is a monitor (also known as a goanna) and Australia has about 25 of the world’s known 56 species of monitors. As a monitor, it is related to the much larger Komodo Dragon. Recent research suggests that monitors have the evolutionary remains of a venom gland, which may explain why wounds from the bites of these animals take a long time to heal.