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Varanus mitchelli Print E-mail
Mitchell's goanna

Varanus mitchelli       Mertens 1958

Mitchell's monitor is a small arboreal goanna found along the waterways of northern Western Australia and Northern Territory. Its long compressed tail led Mertens (1958) to place the species in the subgenus Varanus along with other large Australian goannas, but more recent studies suggest that this is a dwarf monitor of the Odatria subgenus (e.g. Baverstock et al 1994). This lively little goanna reaches a maximum size of about 70cm TL. The tail is 173-210% of SVL (Storr 1980). At hatching they measure less than 8cm SVL and sexual maturity is attained in both sexes at about 22cm SVL (Shine 1986).

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Varanus mitchelli
Mitchell's goanna is found in both freshwater and marine habitats. They are said to inhabit mangrove swamps and coasts as well as along inland rivers, streams, lakes and billabongs. Around Jabiru, Northern Territory, they occupy areas that are only intermittently flooded and are usually seen on trees close to the water. During the wet season they expand their habitat to take advantage of temporarily flooded areas (Shine 1986). Diet in this area is comprised largely of fish and crabs, together with frogs, lizards, reptile eggs, small mammals, nestling birds and terrestrial invertebrates (orthopterans, arachnids, beetles etc.). A specimen examined by Losos & Greene (1986) also contained a frog and Schmida (1985) considered frogs to be their most important prey item (he considers this diet to be responsible for the large numbers of parasites which the goannas harbour). At Jaribu breeding occurs during the dry season, with gravid females found from April - June containing up to 12 small (2.5 X 1.3cm, volume 4.4cc) eggs. The diet of Mitchell's goanna indicates that they forage both on the ground and in the water. However, during most of the day (and throughout the night) they rest on tree branches overhanging the water (Peters 1971b, Shine 1986).

There appear to be no published reports of captive breeding for Mitchell's goanna. In captivity they are said to be very nervous and shy (Peters 1971b; Murphy 1972) and need to be housed in a large, high enclosure with high temperatures and plenty of hiding places, both on and above the ground. In general they tolerate each other well but may harass smaller or weaker lizards. Their diet should contain animals of both aquatic and terrestrial origin.
 
 

 

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The Butaan Project
The Butaan Project - Foraging behaviour

butaan7.jpgWe use feces to investigate diet and activity areas of butaan. In total we have examined more than 1500 samples, possibly the largest ever collected for a single population of reptiles.  Butaan and their relatives are huge specialised frugivores, much bigger than any other specialised frugivorous animal in  the Philippines. They need a constant supply of fruit but lack the wings that allow other frugivores to forage in different forest fragments. Large and immobile, the butaan depends on a very narrow range of foods.

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