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WA Heath Monitors (Varanus rosenbergi)

Nero Egernia

Well-Known Member
Hi everyone, for the past couple years I've been following local Heath Monitors (Varanus rosenbergi). I've learnt a few things about them while out in the field. Probably the most exciting thing, however, was being able to observe and photograph neonates emerging from the scene of their birth, deep within termite mounds, after a lengthy incubation period that lasts roughly half the year.

Nasute Termite Mound by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

I spent hours sitting stark still in the hot sun, being beset upon hundreds of March Flies to get these photos. Patience is definitely a virtue here. Not long after I decided to leave I came across a small skinny adult. She could possibly be the mother of these babies, having laid her eggs some six months earlier. Refer to her sunken belly and prominent hips.

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Here's a different termite mound in a different area. Note the vegetation's regeneration as time goes by after the controlled burnings.

Nasute Termite Mound by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Nasute Termite Mound by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Nasute Termite Mound by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Note the differences in hole sizes formed in the termite mound. The photo with the small hole is the neonate's exit route, which appeared early spring, whereas in the photo with the large hole is the mother digging into the mound to lay the next generation, in early autumn. Some couple metres away I discovered the possible mother resting in the shade of thick vegetation.

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

I may have posted these before, but here's some more photos of different adults that I have come across and was able to photograph.

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr

Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) by Kayla Higginson, on Flickr
 

benc63

Not so new Member
Fantastic event to witness Kayla. I came across the same scene myself many years ago but only had a basic point and shoot camera.
I got a few shots but then my batteries died. I ran a few klms back to my car, drove to a nearby shop to get more batteries and then
got back to the termite mound as quick as I could. the juvie was gone and even though I went back many times, I was never able to
repeat the experience.

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Nero Egernia

Well-Known Member
Awesome! Great timing! Did you plan to see them coming out this time of year? Or just pure luck

Thanks! It was a little bit of luck to begin with when I first started, but after a while you soon learn to look out for the signs. Then finding them becomes easier.

Fantastic event to witness Kayla. I came across the same scene myself many years ago but only had a basic point and shoot camera.
I got a few shots but then my batteries died. I ran a few klms back to my car, drove to a nearby shop to get more batteries and then
got back to the termite mound as quick as I could. the juvie was gone and even though I went back many times, I was never able to
repeat the experience.

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View attachment 328844

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Good effort benc63! It sure is a wonderful thing to witness, even if it means being eaten alive by mosquitoes and march flies. You got some nice close up shots. If I'd tried to get any closer the juvenile monitors would never have emerged from their hole. Odd that you couldn't find it again. They usually use the termite mound as a home base for a few weeks/months before leaving for good.
 
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