This handsome Mertens’ Water Monitor (Varanus mertensi) frequently appeared sun-bathing on rocks or hunting in the water near our campsite on Five Mile Creek in Lakefield National Park. This photo was taken on a dull morning when he was desperate to warm up so that he could slide quietly into the water to hunt for breakfast.
This photo, although more distant, does show the extremely high vertebral keel on the tail which we imagine would assist this semi-aquatic reptile to move more efficiently through the water. Fully grown Mertens’ Water Monitors reach a total length of just over a metre and in contrast to the very nervous Freshwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus johnstoni) they seemed calm.
If you look in the centre of this photo you’ll see the ‘Freshie’ warming itself on a rock. Allen tried several different approaches to get a closer photo but as soon as he emerged from the grass or from behind a tree they would slide quickly into the water out of sight. Freshies are not considered dangerous as they feed mainly on fish but we still took care when collecting buckets of water from the creek as you never know when a ‘Salty’ or Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) might go exploring and there are warning signs all over Lakefield.
Our first afternoon walk after settling into our campsite at Iron Range National Park and Allen spotted this appropriately named Green Python (Morelia viridis) which was coiled around a small branch only about 40cm off the ground. The snake was much smaller than we had expected, they only grow to a maximum total length of 1.5m, but the colour was just as vivid as any illustrations I had ever seen. An exquisite creature – a jewell in the rainforest.