Dragons and monitors
Boyd's forest dragon
While it might seem out of the ordinary for a visitor to the World Heritage Area to have a lizard on their 'must see' list, the Boyd's forest dragon (Hypsilurus boydii)is well worth such a distinction. With its colourful, large-scaled head and line of curved spikes down its back, this dragon conjures up images of the giant lizards who battled in the Jules Verne tale Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Boyd's forest dragon is the epitome of cryptic in its closed canopy rainforest habitat and is a challenge to spot even when it is directly in front of you. It is often found clinging vertically to a tree trunk with its head uppermost, allthough the 50cm long dragon has been observed by herpetologists to sometimes sleep in a horizontal position on branches. The dragon was probably one of our immigrants from Southeast Asia when a land bridge to New Guinea existed during an ice age.
While not a rainforest endemic, the lace monitor (Varanus varius) deserves a mention due to its size and the likelihood of it being seen by visitors. Up to one and a half metres in length, it is an impressive beast to observe. This lizard is arboreal and is a major predator of birds' nests, but it also eats reptiles, small mammals, large insects and even carrion and food scraps. Lace monitors can sometimes be seen sauntering confidently through campgrounds, seemingly unafraid of people, while they search for unattended plates of food. However, if startled or threatened, they will run up the nearest tree trunk, quick as a flash!
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