New improved Florida, now with more giant lizards

African Nile monitor lizards Well, now with a Florida subspecies. This sucks because virtually the whole state is prime reptile habitat. I hope we don’t get mambas, cobras, and brown snakes (oh my). They would probably love it here also. The exotic pet industry could ‘contribute’ mightily to Florida ecosystems.

Greeeeaaaat. Just what we need, another non-native species messin’ things up and killing or pushing out the native species.

I actually could have said this morning, “Of all the things going wrong with my life, at least I don’t have to worry about giant lizards.”

I miss this morning.

There’s a photo of them here. How’d you like one of those in your backyard?

:eek: I used to read Dave Barry faithfully, so I knew that in Florida the skeeters have to file flight plans, the land crabs are the Floridian equivalent of chipmunks, and the roaches/palmetto bugs are big enough to ride…but that’s SCARY.

This makes me APPRECIATE the cute little lizards we have around here, no longer than four inches from nose to squirmy tail. Of course the cats have always appreciated them.

But wait, there’s more!

I worked in an animal rescue foundation that saved large cats. Believe it or not, lions and tigers are fairly cheap to buy. I could not imagine a worse animal to try to keep as a pet. I guess these lizards are almost as bad.

Yeah, I’m sick of all those New Yawkas, too.

Well, not that bad. Monitors don’t see people as potential hot lunches, they way the big cats do. They just see us as annoyances, when we try to tell them what to do. And, they have very little tolerance for being annoyed. But, no, they don’t make good pets.

I’m kind of torn, on this issue. On the one hand, introduction of any non-native species to an ecosystem is asking for disaster, especially a highly efficient, top predator species, like the Nile. On the other hand, I think it’s way cool that Florida now has monitors. I’d love to see one (from a distance) in the wild. But, I suppose it’s best to eradicate them, sadly.

I didn’t know where Port Coral was, so I looked it up. Turns out it’s near Ft. Myers, which is a hub of the exotic pet import trade. So, my money is on escapees being the founding stock. But, I seriously doubt the “thousands” figure. 145 sightings in 13 years? If there were thousands, you’d probably have that many sightings in a month. People would be panicking.

You mean Cape Coral (end nitpick)

And that’s the first time I’ve ever heard Ft. Myers described as anything including the word “exotic”… :wink:

“Younger sibling of the redneck Riviera” would be closer to it…

Personally, I think the lizards are kinda cool in the sense that I have one more potentially hazardous animal in the neighborhood that I can tell my friends in England about…
On the other hand, if they continue to spread there are going to be a lot of unhappy dog owners.

I should probably start a separate thread for this, but can anyone explain how one pregnant female can produce enough genetic variation for a viable population to now exist?

Hmm… wonder if some grad student at my university will in the future study the reproductive endocrinology of the monitor lizard and how the contaminants in the Cape Coral area affect it…

Alligators versus monitors, a battle for the ages. In the water my money is on the gators. A monitor is a snack to a decent sized gator. Monitors are fairly long, but lightweights by comparison. There are many animals that will eat monitor eggs, raccoons, snakes, opossums (not native), and lots more. I don’t see the monitor getting out of hand like a foreign plant or bug. OTOH, alligators will have to protect their eggs from a better predator now. Should be interesting.

Davebear Big lizards cause a panic? In Florida, not likely. I guess monitors are fairly aggressive, having read that link I posted. But I’m certain they aren’t as territorial or as dangerous as a large alligator.

The number of monitors could be very large given the time over which the sightings have occurred. It’s quite possible that anyone seeing a monitor would assume that they saw an alligator. Alligators are common in Cape Coral, like most of Florida. There are a lot of older residents who can’t see very well.

Awww. I think they’re cute. But I’m told I have strange tastes in animals.

On the bright side, as a non-native species you, Joe Citizen, can kill them and they taste just like chicken. Five foot long, butt ugly chicken infested with every kind of germ, but chicken.

Cape…Port…whatever. :slight_smile:

Well, I’m not naming any names, because some of the importers are old friends. But, yes. There are quite a lot of exotics in that area, though most of them are safely tucked away in cages.

Well, I’m not saying this is necessarily the case, here, but it’s been shown that some reptiles can produce offspring from different fathers in a single clutch. This assumes the female has had access to multiple males, of course. But, it needn’t have been recent. Some reptiles can also stored sperm, viably, for over a year and, possibly, over two years, when conditions aren’t conducive to offspring survival rates. I don’t know if I ever read whether monitors fall within either of those “groups”.

We don’t know that it’s a genetically viable population, though. That wouldn’t stop them from reproducing until the genetics got so bad they couldn’t produce viable young. That would take many, many generations.

No question. Even on land, the monitor is history, should the gator make that decision. Monitors are quick, but gators are amazingly fast, too, when they want to be.

Gonna be some pissed off, and mightily confused, mama gators down there.

Well, it makes the newspapers pretty much every time Fish & Wildlife is called in to remove a roaming gator. I’d think that, if Mom and Pop Suburbanite came home to find half a dozen five foot long monitors sunning themselves in the driveway, we’d hear about it.

Yeah, that’s possible. But, the figures given, 145 sightings in 13 years(!), make me tend to doubt it. That’s barely one a month. If there’s thousands of them, where the heck are they? It’s not easy to hide a five foot lizard in a suburban backyard. Especially when it’s a species that basks, and isn’t afraid of anything smaller than a Nile Crocodile.

You mean like the Salmonella and Listeria bacterias found on nearly every piece of raw chicken sold in America? Those kind of germs?

Me too, Fretful Porpentine, though I’m not sure I’d call them “cute”, exactly.

I would have to take issue with the assertion that they don’t make good pets, but certainly not for everyone. We have had two monitors over the years and I know several other members of the herpetological society of which I am a member who also keep them. In our case we got into keeping reptiles due to my wife’s allergies to anything with fir or feathers. They are most certainly high maintenance pets and as mentioned are capable of inflicting some damage with their tail, as well as their claws and teeth. In all the times I have handled ours and others I have been bitten only once, by a 6 inch hatchling, but have been scratched and gouged by claws many times, rarely as an act of aggression, usually the animal was just hanging on and got spooked, or decided to climb. I have been deliberately bitten, clawed and whipped more times than I could count by iguanas, far more high strung and unpredictable than any monitor I ever encountered and at 5 ft, a real hand full. Iguanas are also setting up housekeeping in Florida from what I hear. As with any pet, but especially an exotic, do your homework before you buy and know what you are getting into. I have adopted several lizards and turtles that where bought by people who didn’t know what they were getting into, and I don’t need any more.

Yep, those are the ones, except a gutted chicken from the Safeway isn’t likely to bite you with its salmonella injectors if you fail to finish it off.

I think it would rock, but that’s because I’m sitting in this nice office painting a rosey picture in my mind, not witnessing the tragic demise of my cat being whipped to death by a dragon.

I do remember thinking how cute the iquanas and whatnot were on my last trip down there but then again they were measured in inches, not feet.

On monitors as pets: in the link I posted, the writer singled out the Nile monitor as being ill-tempered, strong, and aggressive. I’m not against monitors as pets, but a supposed expert on monitors thinks the Nile monitor in particular makes a lousy pet. All those characteristics should make for a fun new species for us Floridians to wrestle with. Honestly though, it’s just a big lizard.

As I already mentioned ill-tempered, strong, and aggressive reptiles are already pretty common in Florida. Alligators will keep the numbers of monitors down, as a healthy six footer should be able to take down the biggest monitor. But, given the monitor situation, keeping foreign venomous snakes seems like a recipe for disaster. Florida is too good a habitat for critters like that. A de-fanged venomous snake could escape long enough to have babies in the wild. Of course the babies would come out fully fanged and so on until you have the Florida cobra. Which would be sort of cool, sure, until you find one curled up under your lawn furniture.

Of course there are legitimate industries that depend on venomous snakes, like the antivenom industry. The pet industry doesn’t even come close.

Giant monitor lizards taking over Florida?!?


I, for one, welcome our new lizard overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted SDMB personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground caves.

I heard Al Gore was down here, registering the monitors to vote in the next election!

: ducking and running :