There are five families of lizards living in Australia. These include monitors, geckos, legless, skinks and dragons.
By far the biggest family is skinks (Scincidae) which has well over 300 species in it. Skinks make up over 50% of all Australian lizards.
We believe we have what are Eastern Water Skinks (Eulamprus quoyii) living around the house. They grow to about 30cm (1 ft) long and eat a whole range of insects.
They have been breeding quite well over the years and are quite numerous and like to lie on the warm verandas, steps and footpaths especially in the afternoon. Once you are used to them (and know that sudden scuttle is not a snake), it's nice to have them around. They seem to be used to us too either completely ignoring us or pretending they are invisible when we step over them.
Yesterday some movement in the backyard caught my eye. At first I thought it was a small dog , cat or possum in the garden but then it "took off" when I approached.
It was a huge goanna or monitor lizard about 2m (6ft) long that had been eating a dead bird in the garden. He ran up the nearest tree, their normal defence mechanism.
I have seen many in the bush around us as well as racing across the road (or worse, squashed onto it) but this was the first one I had seen so close to the house.
The co driver was NOT impressed! But I thought she had been here long enough now to know about such things and did not keep it a secret (like the 3m (9ft) python I came across in the shed a few years ago).
Goannas are predatory lizards with sharp teeth and claws. They prey on small animals; insects, lizards, snakes, mammals, birds and eggs and are eaters of carrion and are attracted to rotting meat.
They are not really dangerous, preferring to escape than attack but when cornered can be a bit of a problem.
For more info (and a great picture) on Goannas click on: http://www.walkaboutpark.com.au/index.php?id=228