The short-tailed monitor, or the pygmy goanna, (Varanus brevicauda) is the smallest living monitor lizard, and may be the smallest species of monitor that has ever existed with a maximum length of 25 cm. They live in desert regions of Australia.
The generic name Varanus is derived from the Arabic word waral ورل, which is translated to English as "monitor". The specific name is a combination of two Latin words: brevis meaning "short" and cauda meaning "tail".
The short-tailed monitor ranges throughout central Australia from the coast of Western Australia through the interior of Northern Territory and northwestern South Australia to western Queensland. This monitor burrows in compacted sandy loam and gravel, in areas dominated by spinifex (Triodia spp.). This terrestrial species is secretive and rarely seen active above ground; it is mainly encountered by digging up its burrow.
Pygmy goannas are highly active foragers in the wild. They eat insects and reptile eggs, spiders, scorpions, small lizards and occasionally frogs and even small snakes. These small monitors are bold and fierce predators, despite their size.
Mating occurs for this monitor lizard in September and October after hibernation, and by February, the eggs hatch. The clutch size usually is two or three, but in some coastal areas, up to five eggs are produced. "In dry years when food is scarce no reproduction occurs at all."
The main threat to short-tailed monitors is predation by larger animals.
- "Varanus brevicauda". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
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