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Rosenberg's Goanna - profile

Office of Environment and Heritage

Indicative distribution
Rosenberg distribution.jpgThe areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.

Scientific name: Varanus rosenbergi

Conservation status in NSW:Vulnerable

Commonwealth status: Not listed

Profile last updated: 13 Nov 2015


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 V. varius, 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(1).jpgRosenbergs Goanna, Ross Bennett
Copyright © Ross Bennett
Rosenberg(2).jpgRosenberg's Goanna, Warwick Smith
Copyright © OEH
Rosenberg(3).jpgJuvenile Rosenbergs Goanna. Ross Bennett
Copyright © Ross Bennett


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.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


  • Habitat loss and fragmentation as land is cleared for residential, agricultural and industrial developments.
  • Removal of habitat elements, such as termite mounds and fallen timber.
  • Animals are killed by moving vehicles - upgrading of dirt roads to bitumen, which increases the speed of through traffic, is likely to increase the instances of road kills.
  • Predation by cats and dogs.

Recovery strategies

A targeted strategy for managing this species has been developed under the Saving Our Species program; click here for details. For more information on the Saving Our Species program click here.

Activities to assist this species

  • Keep cats indoors and restrain dogs in and adjacent to areas where this species occurs; desex domestic cats and dogs.
  • Do not fragment known habitat with clearing, roads or other development.
  • Search for the species in suitable habitat in areas that are proposed for development or management actions.
  • Assess the appropriateness of cat and dog ownership in new subdivisions.
  • Retain all termite mounds and fallen timber in areas that support this species.
  • Retain and protect heath, woodland and forest remnants within the known distribution of the species.
  • Ensure remnant populations remain connected or linked to each other; in cases where remnants have lost connective links, re-establish links by revegetating sites to act as stepping stones for dispersal.
  • To reduce roadkills, new roads or road upgrades in areas supporting habitat should have elevated sections constructed (to facilitate goannas passing underneath).
  • Mark sites onto maps or plans.

Information sources

  • Cogger, H.G. (2000) Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. 6th Edition. (Reed New Holland, Sydney)
  • King, D. and Green, B. (1999) Goannas; the biology of varanid lizards. UNSW Press, Sydney.
  • Swan, G., Shea, G. and Sadlier, R. (2004) A Field Guide to Reptiles of New South Wales. (Reed New Holland, Sydney)
  • Vincent, M. and Wilson, S. (1999) Australian Goannas. New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty. Ltd. Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia.
Peter Robertson

I saw a roadkill Rosenbergs 4/12/2021. About 1hr north of Taralga.10km north of the Abercrombie River. Open farmland but forested gullies tom the east and some termite mounds spotted.

Sun, 5/12/2021 - 2:00 pm Permalink

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