Lookout For Lizards

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 1:17pm

Huge monitor lizards are spreading across Florida.

Monitor lizards aren't native to Florida, but that's exactly where they're turning up.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is telling everyone to be on the lookout for the lizards, which can grow up to seven feet long.

"We've been finding them along the C-15 canal," said Gabriella Ferraro of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

That canal stretches from Lake Worth to downtown West Palm, but they've been spotted in canal systems in Broward County, too.

The FWC has a picture of them mating in Palm Beach County, and they suspect that they're interrupting the local ecosystem.

The lizards were likely brought here from Africa and the Asian subcontinent as pets.

"They feed on eggs. We're talking about eggs of our native birds, that are using these canals as habitats," said Ferraro.

To be clear, the lizards don't necessarily seek out people and bite them, but they do get defensive when harassed.

The FWC has been euthanizing ones that have been captured, and they plan to step up patrols to eliminate as many as possible.

"We do expect to find more. That's why we're putting the word out that we do ask the public to help us in this effort. This is a high-priority species for us," said Ferraro.

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