Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Life and death struggle

Dominic Gorman had to look twice when he spotted a lace monitor darting up a tree near Rochester with something large in its mouth.

DARREN LINTON January 24, 2013 4:52am

A lace monitor seizes a cat near Rochester.

Dominic Gorman had to look twice when he spotted a lace monitor darting up a tree near Rochester with something large in its mouth.

The monitor, more commonly know as a tree goanna, was fighting a feral cat.

‘‘I couldn’t really believe it at first, I had to look a couple of times,’’ he said.

‘‘I pulled my camera out and it was in a fight with a cat.’’

Mr Gorman first posted the photographs of the life-and-death struggle on social media and he expected a backlash from cat lovers.

‘‘I had a few friends say to me you should have saved the cat,’’ he said.

‘‘Most people though seemed to appreciate that the feral cat population isn’t really a good thing.’’

Mr Gorman decided to simply photograph the encounter rather than intervene in what a leading reptile expert says is a normal activity in the wild.

Melbourne Zoo’s head of reptiles Jon Birkett said he had seen examples of goannas taking feral kittens before, but never one as large as captured in the photographs.

‘‘They are a primary predator in our Victorian environment,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve seen examples of it many times, goannas take sizeable animals like possums and cats, but never a cat that size, usually much smaller kittens.’’

Mr Birkett said when feral cats grew to adult size the tables were turned.

‘‘They are a significant predator of lizards, including young goannas,’’ he said.

In this case, the goanna won, which Mr Gorman said was not only incredible to witness, but also pleasing.

‘‘I have a big problem with seeing feral cats around because they do damage to the native wildlife, it was good to see the natives having a win,’’ he said.

Mr Birkett said despite their armoury of weapons, including a tail-flick, sharp claws and even sharper teeth, goannas would never win the numbers game.

‘‘The goanna won’t need a feed for quite some time after that,’’ he said, meaning the rest of the litter would be free to grow, breed and add to the number of feral pests in the bush.

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