There is an assumption that lizards are a bit dull witted. According to the Urban Dictionary, the lizard brain is ‘that part of the brain that senses danger, where instincts and gut feelings originate; primal thoughts; subconscious or involuntary processes’ exist. However, the lizard we are talking about this week is considered very intelligent. Let’s meet the Perentie!
The Perentie is one of the largest lizards in the world, and is the largest lizard in Australia. It can grow to six feet in length and can run at speeds up to 20 mph. As I noted above, the Perentie is a monitor lizard. Monitor lizards are different from other lizards by virtue of the fact that they are carnivorous (eat meat). It is a keen hunter, using its forked tongue to sniff out prey, and then literally run it down. The organ that helps them do this is called Jacobson’s organ, which is located on the roof of their mouths.
The Perentie is found in the arid deserts of Western of Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. The IUCN* has not assessed the Perentie, but it is considered common.
Since the Perentie is a lizard, we know that it is cold blooded. It is ectothermic, which means it needs to be warmed by the sun. The Perentie has most of its blood vessels in its head, which is very convenient. When the sun comes up, the Perentie can stick its head out of its hiding place, usually a burrow or rocky outcropping, and warm up without putting itself at risk to predators. Predators include wedge-tailed eagles, which hunt for young Perentie, and the Aboriginal people who have used the Perentie as food for thousands of years.
The below video will show you the Perentie in action and it will also explain why it is that such a large lizard can run so fast. Enjoy!
The Perentie plays a prominent role in Aboriginal culture. It is the subject of many stories and the markings on the Perentie have found their way into Aboriginal art and woodcarving.
The below picture clearly shows the intricate pattern on the Perentie.
Photo credit: Arkive.orge - Steven David Miller
My thanks to Arkive.org, for their wonderful pictures and information packed pages. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about the Perentie. It was nice to speak about an animal that is not endangered. J If you would like to learn more about this marvelous monitor, and other lizards, visit the links I have provided below in my citations and references list.
Hope to see you all again next week.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza
Award Winning Middle Grade Fantasy, Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!
Citations and References:
*IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature
Alice Springs Desert Park - The Perentie
MongaBay - Lizard Intelligence
Australia Zoo - The Perentie