If you’re a cat and you live in Florida, you might want to read this. African lizards, which are about five feet long, are prowling the state, looking for something tasty to eat — and apparently they’ve been known to munch on cats.
It all began with a few anecdotes shared between neighbors. One man believes the five-foot, cat-eating lizard is to blame for the disappearance of his Dachshund puppies, and someone else noted that recently, there have been a quite a lot less feral cats running around, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Called the Nile Monitor, the creature doesn’t just eat cats. It’s from Sub-Saharan Africa and can grow up to eight feet – certainly big enough for the job. In their native land, they have been known to eat smaller animals, and Florida residents – in Cape Coral in particular – have blamed it for their murdered pets as well.
A cousin of the Komodo dragon, the Nile Monitor is a threat to small mammals, reptiles, fish, owls and tortoises. And officials are trying to mitigate that threat with an aggressive campaign to rid the Sunshine state of the prowling, five-foot lizard.
Patrols go out up to six times a month – any lizard spotted is shot. They’ve killed about 20 of them, The Week reported, and want to kill as many as they can before they start to procreate. And there’s likely a ton of them out here.
The five-foot lizard’s favorite spots are along the waterways and canals of Palm Beach County. They’ve flourished in the Florida heat, and one conservation biologist told Business Insider the Nile Monitor one of the “worst invasive reptiles.” Unhelpfully, he called the Nile Monitor a “hulking beast,” and “a voracious predator of any creature smaller than itself.”
So how did they get all the from Sub-Saharan Africa to Florida? The exotic pet trade. According to The Sentinel, they were either released by their owners or escaped. And the trouble is, if pesky pets do a little too well out in the wild, they become an invasive species that threatens not just to tip the ecosystem out of whack and annihalte native animals, but the lives of Dachshund puppies and cats as well.
Luckily for humans, the five-foot cat-eating lizard don’t usually attack unless goaded into it. But unlikely for their cats, if they’re wandering outside at the wrong time – it may not be their lucky day.
[Photos Courtesy YouTube Screengrab and Sean Gallup/Getty Images]