The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) directed officials to find and kill Nile monitor lizards in Palm Beach County.
According to the commission, these lizards have established a breeding population in the county. Officials were asked to increase patrol and kill these exotic reptile once a month, and sometimes several times a month depending on how many are sighted or how well they breed.
The Nile monitors are becoming a threat. They eat fish, reptiles, chicks, small mammals, and burrowing owls.
“Nile monitors eat a wide variety of food items including small mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians and more,” Biologist Jenny Ketterlin Eckles said in a statement. “Because their diet is so varied, we are assessing whether this species may have an impact on Florida’s native wildlife.”
The Nile monitor is a species of lizard native to Africa. The color of its body can range from a light yellow to dark olive or brown. They have a pattern of light yellow markings on their back, which appear as bands or stripes closer to the head and tail.
A typical adult Nile monitor can grow to over 5 feet long and close to 15 pounds. Hatchlings are 7 to 12 inches in length. They are semi-aquatic and can be seen basking or foraging near bodies of water.
According to officials, this species is most frequently observed along canal banks near Southern Boulevard in Palm Beach County. Officials are surveying canals in the area and distributing fliers requesting the public’s assistance in locating these animals.
“Helping is easy. Just photograph and report any Nile monitor sightings; reports can greatly assist wildlife managers in directing removal efforts,” FWC said in a statement.
However, people need to be careful. Other lizards can easily be mistaken for Nile monitors, including green iguanas, spiny-tailed iguanas, curly-tailed lizards, and more.
“Color and pattern variation is pretty common, so the most effective way to verify the species is to take a picture of the animal and submit it along with a report of your observation,” Eckles noted.
Additionally, people are advised not to attempt to capture a Nile monitor themselves. They are not innately aggressive, but may defend themselves if aggravated or threatened.
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