Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps

CAVS: 2271

Species Varanus gouldii (Gray, 1838)

Gould's Goanna, Sand Monitor


Generic Combinations



Results of molecular analysis conducted by Fitch et al. (2006) and Brennan et al. (2021) do not support the monophyly of the subspecies V. gouldii flavirufus (Mertens, 1958) with respect to other forms of V. gouldii and we follow the Australian Society of Herpetologists in treating V. gouldii as monotypic until further work can be conducted.




New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia

Extra Distribution Information

Continental Australia except extreme southeast and forests of the east coast subject to very high rainfall; New Guinea

IBRA and IMCRA regions (map not available)


NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Vic, WA: Arnhem Coast (ARC), Arnhem Plateau (ARP), Avon Wheatbelt (AW), Brigalow Belt North (BBN), Brigalow Belt South (BBS), Broken Hill Complex (BHC), Burt Plain (BRT), Central Arnhem (CA), Carnarvon (CAR), Channel Country (CHC), Central Kimberley (CK), Coolgardie (COO), Cobar Peneplain (CP), Central Ranges (CR), Cape York Peninsula (CYP), Daly Basin (DAB), Darwin Coastal (DAC), Dampierland (DL), Davenport Murchison Ranges (DMR), Darling Riverine Plains (DRP), Eyre Yorke Block (EYB), Finke (FIN), Flinders Lofty Block (FLB), Gascoyne (GAS), Gawler (GAW), Gibson Desert (GD), Gulf Fall and Uplands (GFU), Geraldton Sandplains (GS), Great Sandy Desert (GSD), Gulf Coastal (GUC), Gulf Plains (GUP), Great Victoria Desert (GVD), Jarrah Forest (JF), Little Sandy Desert (LSD), MacDonnell Ranges (MAC), Mallee (MAL), Murray Darling Depression (MDD), Mitchell Grass Downs (MGD), Mount Isa Inlier (MII), Mulga Lands (ML), Murchison (MUR), Nandewar (NAN), New England Tablelands (NET), Northern Kimberley (NK), NSW North Coast (NNC), NSW South Western Slopes (NSS), Nullarbor (NUL), Ord Victoria Plain (OVP), Pine Creek (PCK), Pilbara (PIL), Riverina (RIV), South Eastern Queensland (SEQ), Simpson Strzelecki Dunefields (SSD), Stony Plains (STP), Sturt Plateau (STU), Swan Coastal Plain (SWA), Tanami (TAN), Tiwi Cobourg (TIW), Victoria Bonaparte (VB), Wet Tropics (WT), Yalgoo (YAL)

Ecological Descriptors

Arboreal, desert, diurnal, hummock grassland, low open shrubland, low open woodland, low shrubland, low woodland, open forest, open heath, open scrub, oviparous, predator, tall shrubland, tallopen shrubland, tussock grassland.


General References

Bennett, A.F. 1973. Blood physiology and oxygen transport during activity in two lizards, Varanus gouldii and Sauromalus hispidus. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 46A: 673-690

Brennan, I., Lemmon, A.R., Lemmon, E.M., Portik, D.M., Weijola, W., Welton, L., Donnellan, S.C. & Keogh, J.S. 2021. Phylogenomics of Monitor lizards and the role of competition in dictating body size disparity. Systematic Biology 70(1): 120-132

Cogger, H.G., in Cogger, H.G., Cameron, E.E. & Cogger, H.M. 1983. Amphibia and Reptilia. 313 pp. in Walton, D.W. (ed.). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 1 vi + 313 pp. [129] (subspecies not identified in Cogger et al. (1983: 129), in which Cogger listed synonyms)

Fitch, A.J., Goodman, A.E. & Donnellan, S.C. 2006. A molecular phylogeny of the Australian monitor lizards (Squamata: Varanidae) inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Australian Journal of Zoology 54: 253-269

Green, B. 1972. Water loss of the sand goanna (Varanus gouldii) in its natural environment. Ecology 53: 452-457

Johnson, C.R. 1972. Head-body temperature differences in Varanus gouldii (Sauria: Varanidae). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 43A: 1025-1029

Johnson, C.R. 1976. Some behavioural observations on wild and captive sand monitors, Varanus gouldii (Sauria: Varanidae). Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 59: 377-380

King, M. & King, D. 1975. Chromosomal evolution in the lizard genus Varanus (Reptilia). Australian Journal of Biological Sciences 28: 89-108

Mertens, R. 1942. Die Familie der Warane (Varanidae). Dritter Teil: Taxonomie. Abhandlungen der Senckenbergischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft 466: 235-391 (taxonomy)

Mertens, R. 1958. Bemerkungen über die Warane Australiens. Senckenbergiana Biologica 39: 229-264

Pianka, E.R. 1968. Notes on the biology of Varanus eremius. Western Australian Naturalist 11: 39-44 (natural history)

Pianka, E.R. 1982. Observations on the ecology of Varanus in the Great Victoria Desert. Western Australian Naturalist 15: 1-8 (taxonomy)

Storr, G.M. 1980. The monitor lizards (genus Varanus Merrem, 1820) of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 8: 237-293 (taxonomy)

Warburg, M.R. 1965. Studies on the environmental physiology of some Australian lizards from arid and semiarid habitats. Australian Journal of Zoology 13: 563-575


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
03-Feb-2023 LACERTILIA 23-Aug-2023 MODIFIED
28-May-2014 16-Aug-2012 MODIFIED
08-Mar-2011 08-Mar-2011 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)