Massive lizard takes up residence in Davie backyard

DAVIE, FLA. (WSVN) - A large lizard was caught on camera making itself at home in a Davie family’s backyard, and the couple said, they may have to pay hundreds of dollars to remove it.

Maria Lieberman took video of the reptile on her back patio, saying it appeared to be about 7 feet long and weigh approximately 150 pounds.

“First he came through this little hole right here,” said her husband, Zachary Lieberman, “and then I guess he crept up into our backyard.”

The lizard made itself at home, terrorizing the Lieberman family.

“We saw it right here in this corner, and at first we thought it was an alligator because it was huge,” Maria said, “but then it had like a lizard tongue. It’s pretty creepy; it’s like a dinosaur. My kids were screaming. We just watched ‘Jurassic Park,’ so it was insane, but he’s come back twice.”

Video filmed by Zachary showed him holding a bat as the lizard appeared to be unfazed.

“Their tails, they whip it around fast, and it might be able to knock a human out,” he said. “He followed me right up to the front of my house. I’m pretty sure he ate Rocky the raccoon, ’cause he looked like his belly was full, so God forbid, the speed that he has to get to a small child would be pretty quick.”

Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill told 7News the lizard is a Nile monitor and noted that while they are likely to avoid human contact, the reptiles do prey on small animals.

“If she has pet birds or even a very small dog like a Chihuahua, she should be concerned, as these types of monitors, at that size, could easily predate on something like that. They normally feed on rodents, birds, fish and eggs,” Magill said. “It is not going to attack a human but will give you a nasty bite as well as some very severe scratches if you corner it and try to handle it.”

Maria said she reached out to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for help, only to be told they do not check outdoor animals.

She then reached out to Animal Control, which said they would charge $350 to place a trap in her backyard. After speaking with 7News, Lieberman said FWC did show up and set up a trap for the reptile.

“We don’t necessarily want it dead, but we want it removed from our area,” Maria said.

Nile monitors are native to Africa but are considered an invasive species here in the Sunshine State, according to the US Geological Survey. There are established populations of the carnivorous reptiles in Southwest Florida, likely starting as probable pet escapees and intentional releases.

Because of this, the USGS calls the Nile monitor “the largest, most dangerous non-indigenous lizard in the United States,” saying they are temperate-adapted and will eventually spread throughout Florida and into other southern states.

“Unfortunately, there are more and more of these animals being introduced to South Florida,” Magill says.

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