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‘Nope, Stay in the Car’: Mom and Daughter Spot Massive Invasive Lizard

Renee Aland and her daughter were driving in Florida when they spotted an alligator-sized lizard. It wasn’t a gator, though, it was something else—something that doesn’t belong. Aland filmed the massive reptile, an Asian monitor lizard, crossing the road as she phoned the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to report its location.

According to a Facebook post on her public profile, Aland says she was driving down Hillsboro Boulevard in Broward County, Florida, when she spotted the 5-foot-long monitor lizard. She said the animal caused her to do “a double take.”

As Aland filmed the lizard, her daughter asked, “Should I get closer?” Aland immediately replied, “Nope, just stay in the car.”

An Invasive Species in Florida

Asian monitor lizards are an invasive species in Florida. Humans illegally brought these lizards, along with their relatives, Nile monitor lizards, to the state as part of the pet trade. FWC says researchers believe the presence of these invasive species “stem from intentional and unintentional releases from animals in captivity.”

Monitors may escape into the wild on their own, or their owners may purposefully release them. Natural disasters like hurricanes also sometimes destroy facilities and free monitors into the wild.

Large monitor lizards eat native species. Speaking specifically about Nile monitors, FWC says: “Due to their generalist diet, Nile monitors may impact state- and federally-listed species including sea turtles, wading birds, gopher tortoises and the American crocodile.”

A high reproduction rate, a diverse diet, and the ability to travel over land and water all contribute to the animals’ ability to establish themselves in parts of Florida. FWC says monitors sometimes attack small pets and livestock such as chickens.

Watch the massive lizard spotted in Florida here.

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