Nile Monitors, lizards that can grow up to 9 feet in length but are normally only found in Africa and Asia, are now invading parts of South Florida.
Nine of the formidable looking creatures were recently spotted in Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a group that fears the monitors could undermine the natural ecosystem of the area if they continue to grow in number.
“This is a high-priority species for us,” Scott Hardin, who coordinates nonnative species programs at the commission, said in a statement earlier this week.
People are being warned that the huge lizards — equipped with long tails that they can use like whips, powerful jaws and teeth, and sharp claws — get extremely nasty when threatened, and thus attempts to capture the creatures are discouraged.
“Nile monitor lizards may exceed 7 feet in length and are known to be very defensive when cornered, so the FWC discourages attempts to capture the lizards. They are known to be more active during the hot summer months, explaining why reports have increased.”
What are the FWC’s plans for handling the monitor outbreak?
“We plan to go after them aggressively to either try to eradicate them or suppress their numbers if they are determined to be established.”