The Nile monitor, a lizard native to Africa, has been thriving and spreading in various areas of Florida since about 1990. The giant lizard sometimes grows up to 8 feet long. It will eat anything it can catch that is smaller than itself, including pets and wild animals.
How did this giant get started in Florida? Some people keep Nile monitors as pets and eventually may end up letting them free in the wild because either they have grown too large to keep, or they require too much food. The problem with releasing exotic pets is that when they get hungry they may become very efficient at finding and eating native animals and birds and their young. Some of these are key native creatures that may be on endangered lists, so they can cause a lot of havoc to an ecosystem.
Don’t let pets loose into the wild—like the Nile monitor.