Technical Memorandum 16
Supervising Scientist, 1986
ISBN 0 644 01331 1
About the report
Data were gathered on habit of food consumption, habitats, reproductive cycles, general biology, and utilisation by Aboriginal people, of five reptile species on the Magela Creek system: filesnakes (Acrochordus arafurae), sand goannas (Varanus panoptes and V. gouldii) and water goannas (V. mertensi and V. mitchelli).
Filesnakes are abundant in downstream billabongs, and eat a variety of fishes. Mating occurs during the Dry season, with parturition late in the Wet season. Radiotelemetry revealed extensive nocturnal movements, especially in shallowly inundated grassland during the Wet season.
Sand goannas have very diverse diets, including both vertebrate and invertebrate prey. The proportion of prey that is of aquatic origin is quite high (30% by weight) in V. panoptea, but negligible in V. gouldii. Water goannas are relatively uncommon in downstream areas. These lizards eat mainly fishes and terrestrial arthropods (V. mitchelli) and freshwater crabs (V. mertensi).
Aboriginal people eat sand goannas throughout the year and eat large numbers of filesnakes late in the Dry season. Water goannas are not important food items.