Giant lizard that was on the loose captured
‘We’re just relieved,’ resident who saw the 8-foot-long reptile says
A giant monitor lizard first spotted on the loose in a Davie neighborhood in August is back with its owner — comforting a lot of people who were leery when it was on the lam.
“I’m relieved,” said Zachary Lieberman whose initial sightings of the reptile more than two months ago launched an extensive search for the approximately 8-foot-long, 150 pound reptile.
“The whole community’s really relieved because people can fully enjoy the outdoors again and not have to fear that this thing might be out there lurking or whether it would attack or get after their children or a pet,” he said.
State wildlife agents, assisted by Davie police, captured the lizard Tuesday afternoon — not far from where it had been repeatedly spotted — based on information a resident reported to the Exotic Species Hotline.
“I wish I could say I helped catch it but I had a premonition it was caught,” Lieberman said. “I was driving down Griffin Road and I saw really a lot of iguanas out and I said to myself, ‘I bet the lizard is out today.’”
Lieberman and others had enlisted the help of trappers, hunting dogs, and officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to try to catch the monster, which showed up in the Liebermans’ backyard — in the 9000 block of West Tree Tops Court near the Pine Island Ridge Natural Area — at least three times over the course of two weeks.
Lieberman called the FWC again about 2 p.m. Tuesday when he saw all the iguanas running around the streets of his neighborhood.
“Lo and behold, she said to me, ‘This is crazy but we just caught it about 10 minutes ago’” he said. “I was surprised but I had a premonition, and they grabbed it.”
State wildlife officials confirmed the Asian water monitor was a pet that will be returned to its owner who was issued a criminal citation for the lizard’s escape.
“In this instance, the pet owner came forward and provided us with tips about the animal’s behavior that ultimately helped our biologists capture it,” said Sarah Funck, in a FWC statement.
The FWC has restricted personal ownership of Burmese pythons, green anacondas, Nile monitors and other species considered harmful if they escape captivity. Permits are not required to possess water monitor lizards as personal pets, but owners must meet caging requirements under the Florida Administrative Code.
“It’s been a process but we’re just relieved that it’s finally caught,” Lieberman said.
“Bamboo,” he added. “Its name is Bamboo.”