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Lace Monitor

Varanus varius


Colour: Lace monitors are found in two broad forms. The main form is dark grey to dull blueish-black with numerous, scattered, cream-colored spots. The snout is marked with prominent black and yellow bands extending under the chin and neck. The tail has narrow black and cream bands which are narrow and get wider towards the end of the tail.

The other type, known as Bells form, is typically found in dryer parts of NSW and Queensland. It has broad, black and yellow bands across the body and tail. Close up, these bands are made up of various spotted patterns.

Size: The lace monitor is the second-largest monitor in Australia. The head and body length grows to about 55cm long with the average head to tail length being 140cm long. Some may grow up to 2.1m long (head to tail). 

The tail is long and slender and about 1.5 times the length of the head to body length. 



Diet: The Diet of the lace monitor is varied, including insects, other reptiles, small mammals, birds, eggs and carrion (dead or decaying flesh). 

Movement: The lace monitor is a terrestrial and often arboreal (tree dwelling) active lizard that forages over large areas. 

Breeding: Mating takes place in Spring and Summer where male lace monitors will gather around and mate with receptive females. The female lace monitor will lay between 6-12 eggs, usually laid in termite mounds. 


What to Observe

  • Basking
  • Feeding
  • Courting/mating
  • Hatched eggs
  • Presence of juveniles

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect lizards to start mating and laying eggs earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them. In contrast, they may also start disappearing from areas that become too warm, particularly in upland areas where they can't move any higher to reach cooler regions.

When To Look

They are mainly active from September to May, but are inactive in cooler weather 

Mating occurs in Spring and early Summer. Lace monitors reach sexual maturity at about 4 to 5 years of age. 

Eggs are laid 4-6 weeks after mating occurs

Eggs hatch after 8-10 weeks of incubation with the mother returning to dig them out of their nest. Hatching is temperature dependent so incubation may be longer in cooler temperatures. 


Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout all year!

Where To Look

The lace monitor forages on the ground but will climb a tree when disturbed and shelter in tree hollows or under fallen trees or large rocks. It is found in forests, tall woodlands and open tablelands and slopes. 

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes outside of their known ranges so remember to keep a lookout beyond these regions too!




Carter, D.B., 1992. Reproductive ecology of the lace monitor Varanus varius in south-eastern Australia.


Weavers, B., 1983. Thermal ecology of Varanus varius (Shaw), the lace monitor.


Carter, D.B., 1990. Courtship and mating in wild Varanus varius (Varanidae: Australia). Mem Queensl Mus, 29, pp.333-338.


Weavers, B., 1989. Diet of the lace monitor lizard (Varanus vadus) in south-eastern Australia. Australian Zoologist, 25(3), pp.83-85.


Pyers, G. (2006). Lace monitor. Carlton, Vic.: Echidna Books.


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  1. What Else?

    The lace monitor is distinguishable due to its distinct scaling pattern

  1. Did You Know?

    Lace monitors live for between 10 and 15 years on average. Some captive animals have been recorded reaching 40 years.


    If female lace monitors are unable to find a termite nest to lay their eggs in she will create a nest in a hole in a grounds filled with grass and leaf litter to incubate the eggs while they decompose.