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Nasty Nile Monitors Invade South Florida

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WEST PALM BEACH (CBS4) – There’s a new kind of home invasion being reported all over South Florida. They are home invasions of the slithery kind.

At a home in West Palm Beach, a Nile monitor lizard recently made its way into a home through a doggie door and into a screened patio. It likely came from a nearby canal.

The Nile monitor is a large ill-tempered African lizard which has powerful jaws, razor sharp claws and can grow up to seven feet in length.

The West Palm Beach encounter isn’t the first. There are plenty of up close encounters with Nile monitors being reported all over the South Florida including Hollywood where Mary Stafford lives.

Stafford found a 3-foot long monitor camped out at her screen door.

“It was here, with the tail this way and the head was here,” described Stafford to CBS4’s Ted Scouten. “I walked past it many times, 3 times I know and it was here.”

Mary was very surprised when she spotted the creature.

“I probably scared it to death because I screamed, poor thing, right in his ear,” said Stafford.

The lizard moved around Stafford’s Hollywood neighborhood. A few days later, it showed up at Connie Neilson’s place a few doors down.

“I happened to glance out the picture window and I saw this big lizard, kind of slithering this way and I saw it go underneath the bench,” explained Neilson.

State wildlife officials set up a trap to capture the wandering lizard along with other traps in locations around Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

It’s believed the monitors were most likely pets released by their owners who no longer wanted them or could no longer take care of them.

The monitors, who have been called “the largest, most dangerous non-indigenous lizard in the United States” by the U.S. Geological Survey, pose a threat to native wading birds and smaller animals.

The FWC’s Gabriella Ferraro described the disposition of this foul tempered creature as ‘nasty’ and calls them a nuisance.

“They eat anything and everything including plants and animals. What the FWC is most concerned about is that they’re preying on eggs laid by wading birds,” said Ferraro.

The FWC discourages attempts to capture the lizards since they can get nasty when captured. They have long tails that they can use like whips, sharp teeth and claws. They can also swim under water for as long as an hour or scamper at 15 or more miles per hour above ground.

The FWC plans to gather as much information as they can on the lizards movements, size and what they are eating before they decide whether to eradicate them or merely suppress their numbers. They want to avoid what’s going on in Cape Coral on the west coast where officials are trying to deal with more than a thousand of the free roaming lizards.

If you happen to see a Nile monitor, don’t touch it. Call wildlife officials at 888-IVE-GOT1 (888-483-4681).

The hotline has been set up by the Nature Conservancy and Everglades National Park in cooperation with the FWC. The public may also report sightings and upload photos on the Web at www.IveGot1.org.

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