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Family Varanidae

The very largest lizards


Varanus griseus

Varanids were once described as "land crocodiles," and that's not far from the truth. While they're only distantly related to crocodiles (which aren't lizards), these monitor lizards, also known as goanas in Australia, are deadly hunters, posessing razor-like teeth and big, long, powerful necks. Notice I didn't use the cliche "razor-sharp." That isn't accurate enough. Their teeth are really like surgical scalpels, able to slice through living flesh like a hot knife through butter.

Australia has the highest number of varanid species in the world, but they do live other places as well, with about 30 species total worldwide. Unfortunately, there are no species of varanid in the Americas. Bummer for me.


Species found in this family:
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