A carnivorous lizard native to Africa, known as Nile monitor, has become the target of Florida state wildlife officials, as the creatures are devouring the wildlife of the state. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Service has reported that it is “increasing efforts to locate and remove them” especially along canals in Palm Beach County, north of Miami.
The lizards grow to a length of five feet and have mottled coloring. According to biologist Jenny Ketterlin Eckles of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Nile monitors eat cats as well as some small creatures like frogs, fish and burrowing owls. She added “Because their diet is so varied, we are assessing whether this species may have an impact on Florida’s native wildlife.”
The breeding season of Nile monitors is approaching and thus the officials think that this could be a great time to ramp up their patrols. Local citizens have been asked to report sightings so that the small pets can be protected. Anyone who spots a Nile monitor, whether basking in the sun by the water or exploring their backyard, should take a picture of the same and report it to the authorities.
The Fish and Wildlife Service warned “Members of the public are advised not to attempt to capture a Nile monitor themselves. Monitors are not innately aggressive but like any wild animal they may defend themselves if aggravated or threatened.” Burmese pythons and lionfish are other non-native species which have taken shelter in Florida. These have been labeled as invasive species because they upset the natural balance of predator and prey by harming the local ecosystem.