The Perentie inhabits desert and semi-arid regions, and is found in all mainland States of Australia, except Victoria. It lives in burrows or beneath rocks.
Generally the Perentie, despite its large size, will try to avoid danger by running, heading for a tree where, well above the ground, it sits frozen still, and with its color pattern disrupting the body outline, can easily be mistaken for a branch. The big Australian monitors never attack humans, but if cornered and threatened will defend themselves. For this they are well equipped, having massive claws and powerful jaws, while the lashing of the heavy tail also can cause considerable damage.