Nonnative Lizard Seen Strolling in Florida: It’s ‘Huge’


Alarge lizard was spotted walking near a street in Southwest Florida last week, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they believe it a nonnative Asian water monitor.

In a video posted to Facebook last Monday by Renee Aland, the lizard is seen walking into a wooded area, away from the street.

Aland says in her post, “Did a double take today driving down Hillsboro Blvd today…. Called FWC and reported with the location… this Asian Water Moniter was around 5ft long… I had been sitting there waiting to see it again as they wouldn’t even make a report without photographic proof.”

Aland added, “It was seen coming out of the woods near the canal on Hillsboro Blvd behind the Kia dealership and just south of Bamboo rd.”

In the video Aland posted to Facebook, you can also hear someone saying, “oh he’s huge.” Aland spotted the lizard in North Port, Florida.

In an emailed statement to Newsweek on Tuesday, the FWC said, “Biologists with the FWC’s Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Program have confirmed this be a nonnative monitor lizard (Varanus sp.), which was reported around the Nort Port – Charlotte County line.”

The statement continued: “We believe it to be an Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator) but are unable to definitively confirm identification based off the video that was sent to us. All monitor lizard species are not native to Florida. We encourage people to report observations to the FWC’s Invasive Species Hotline at 888-IVE-GOT1 (483-4681), via the IVEGOT1 app or online at IveGot1.org. Clear photos and/or video, along with exact location is helpful.”

The Asian water monitor can be found throughout southern and southeast Asia, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Occurrences in the U.S. with the nonnative reptile have happened in Arizona, Florida, California and Texas the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.

The lizard can also reach up to 8-feet long, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.

The FWC has also had a previous encounter with the Asian water monitor in 2019 in the Florida Keys. In a post to Facebook the FWC said the 5-foot 2-inch “elusive lizard” was finally captured. The FWC said they were looking for the reptile for over a year and were able to catch it with the help of staff and volunteers.

This article by Anna Commander was first published by Newsweek on 28 May 2024. Lead Image: SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE – MARCH 03: A monitor lizard swims in the water next to the second hole during Day Two of the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club on March 03, 2023 in… More PHOTO BY ANDREW REDINGTON/GETTY IMAGES.

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