Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Goanna toenails

Goannas are Australia's largest lizards. They have tough, loose skin protected by an armour of small, bead-like scales. The limbs are powerful and equipped with large curved claws. They have long necks, narrow heads and very sharp recurved teeth. The claws and teeth, along with the muscular tail, combine as formidable defensive weapons.

Goannas are predators abd scavengers. They consume carrion and hunt lizards, birds and mammals, raid birds'nests and excavate the eggs of turtles. Goannas walk with a characteristic unhurried swaying gait. Their long, slender, deeply forked tongues are protruded constantly as they explore burrows and hollows. Australia is the stronghold of goannas, the 25 species here represent about 3/4 of the total number worldwide. Two species occur in the Greater Brisbane Region.
(Wildlife of Greater Brisbane, 1995, p 179)

Well, folks, at lunch yesterday at the kiosk on Mt. Coot-tha, while I was munching my Vietnamese salad along with my flat white coffee, folks were jumping out of their seats, moving aside for the one man parade of goanna!

I looked beneath my chair at the clicking toenails on all four very strong feet of a Lace Monitor goanna, lifted my own feet and watched him saunter through our area.

Look him up on line here.
http://www.animalpicturesarchive.com/view.php?tid=3&did=62227
or here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lace_goanna

He is quite an impressive fellow!

Anyhow..as folks scurried out of his path, I decided the wiser choice was to simply sit there and let him walk under and beyond me since he was directly below me when I noticed his swaying gait. His tongue..ever so long...and the size of his body were impressive..He was obviously looking for some scraps from the outdoor cafe at which we were having lunch, but after traversing the marble floor and finding none, he moved into the bush near the edges of the outdoor dining area.

Suddenly, dozens of folks turned up with cameras ready. They had obviously stayed back afraid of encountering him too closely. Sorry..too late, he blended immediately into the undergrowth.

And I, I sat there and gazed out from the highest point in Brisbane to view the Brisbane River snaking through the suburbs off to the east and felt graced with the presence of such amazing, huge, and well toothed wild life.

This is the third rather large reptile I have seen since arriving in Brisbane five years ago. The first was a magnificent Bearded Dragon in the front garden.

See him here on line: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/atoz/azdragon.html

I mention these two critters in the same breath because they are about the same size, a yard long including tail, and both walk. I mean they dont' slither like some reptiles. They royally saunter across their territory in control of their environment. Wizards of Oz in the most positive sense.

It is a wonderment that they exist in the same world that I do. I am blessed by the reptile goddess or is it god?