Rosenberg’s Goanna reaches up to 1.5 metres in length. It is dark grey above, finely spotted with yellow or white, and with paired, blackish cross-bands from the neck to the end of the tail. The pairs of narrow, regular bands around the entire length of the tail is a distinguishing feature, separating it from the more common Lace Monitor, which has very wide, light and dark bands towards the tip of the tail. Rosenberg’s Goanna also has distinct, finely barred “lips”, whereas the Lace Monitor has far broader bands around the snout. A pale-edged black stripe runs from the eyes, across the ears and onto the neck. Juveniles are brighter in colour, having an orange wash on the sides of the face and body.


Rosenberg’s Goanna occurs on the Sydney Sandstone in Wollemi National Park to the north-west of Sydney, in the Goulburn and ACT regions and near Cooma in the south. There are records from the South West Slopes near Khancoban and Tooma River. Also occurs in South Australia and Western Australia.

Habitat and ecology

  • Found in heath, open forest and woodland.
  • Associated with termites, the mounds of which this species nests in; termite mounds are a critical habitat component.
  • Individuals require large areas of habitat.
  • Feeds on carrion, birds, eggs, reptiles and small mammals.
  • Shelters in hollow logs, rock crevices and in burrows, which they may dig for themselves, or they may use other species’ burrows, such as rabbit warrens.
  • Runs along the ground when pursued (as opposed to the Lace Monitor, which climbs trees).
  • Lays up to 14 eggs in a termite mound; the hatchlings dig themselves out of the mounds.
  • Generally slow moving; on the tablelands likely only to be seen on the hottest days.
We acknowledge and thank the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage for the provision of threatened species information in this website.
Image by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble – heath goanna Varanus rosenbergiiUploaded by Amada44, CC BY 2.0,
For more information:
NSW Office of Environment & Heritage