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Re: Monitor lizards found in DeLand lakes


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Posted by Luke on May 21, 1999 at 00:09:24:

In Reply to: Monitor lizards found in DeLand lakes posted by Kit on May 19, 1999 at 23:28:43:

Monitor lizards are not native to Florida. They
are either escaped pets or cases of mistaken
identity. There may be an established population
of them by now, however, with the monitors
breeding in the wild. I have heard that the Nile
monitor has already established itself in Florida,
but don't have any evidence to back it up. The
Nile and Salvator monitors are both commonly found
close to water and are common in the pet trade,
the monitor in your area may be either of these.

No monitor lizard in the pet trade (and thus in
florida) is dangerous to people unless it is
grabbed (so it will defend itself with teeth,
claws, and blows from its powerful tail), or
unless it is fed by hand (eager feeders, a monitor
will not always recognize the difference between
food and the hand offering it). Unless they are
frequently fed by people, you will never be able
to get close enough to one to feed it by hand
anyway. They do not eat children.

In case you are wondering, there is one species of
monitor that has had several documented attacks
on people. This is the Komodo monitor, also known
as the Komodo dragon, a leopard sized predator
that normally eats deer and wild boar. It is
endangered, however, and not available to private
citizents in the U.S. Thus, you will not find
escaped specimins living in florida.

Monitors are quite dissimilar to alligators,
except on the most superficial level. Monitors
typically have much smoother skin than an
aligator, with smaller scales. Their necks are
much longer in proportion to their body, their
claws are longer than those of a gator, they
have a very long, forked tongue, their snouts
are more triangular shaped, and they are
invariably smaller than a full grown gator. These
and many other features set them apart from
aligators. Some species, however, do spend a lot
of time near the water, and if seen from a
distance, an inexperienced person might mistake
the two. One thing to note - throughout their
range, monitor lizards are one of the major
predators of crocodilian eggs and young. In
some parts of Africa, for instance, the predations
of the Nile monitor account for 90% of all Nile
crocodile nests plundered. Monitors living in
Florida would almost certainly be eating alligator
eggs and hatchlings (as well as small birds, eggs,
rodents, snakes (including venomous snakes),
lizards, carrion, worms, insects, crayfish, and
anything else they can overpower).

For more information on monitors, you can link to
my web page, by clicking on the link below. In
addition to the photos and information on Nile,
savanna, and argus monitors, you can view the
monitor resources page for a number of other
web pages devoted to monitors and some of the
best books on the subject.

Cheers,

Luke



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