Coral Gables residents gaze in wonder at a four-and-a-half-foot Nile monitor lizard captured near their home in Florida. Imported from Africa as pets, the reptile can grow to more than seven feet long, way too big and feisty for the average owner to handle. “They are horrible pets,” says Todd Campbell, the University of Tampa ecology professor who trapped this lizard. “They have a high propensity toward being aggressive and untameable.” They have razor-sharp claws and teeth, and a nasty temperment. As a result, many are “released into the wild” and end up in the canals behind suburban homes where they breed and prey on native birds, small terrestrial manmmals, and other reptiles.
Approximately 100 lizards were trapped and the contents of their stomachs were analyzed, revealing that they also feed on dogs and cats.
New regulations were passed in Florida in June 2010 that ban some species from ownership including the Burmese/Indian python, reticulated python, green anaconda, Nile monitor lizard, and African rock python.Buy This Image