Sixty Down, Hundreds to Go

By staff March 1, 2005

As far as I know, Carl Hiassen hasn't used this in a novel yet, but here's betting you a paycheck he will. After all, it's just "over the river and through the woods" down I-75 and you're in Jurassic Park.

Remember those seven-foot-long monitor lizards that showed up living in the Cape Coral canals five years ago or so and have now spread over onto Pine Island? The ones that aren't particularly afraid of people and that can "tear off your cat's head with one twist," as University of Florida herpetologist Kenneth Kaysko likes to say? (Not to mention there are several cases of the lizards chasing off humans who venture too close.)

Now the Charlotte Harbor Natural Estuary Program has funded a $51,664 eradication grant that's resulted in about 60 of the creatures being bagged by a crew from Columbia College in Savannah, Ga., according to one estuary program official. No one has even the slightest idea how many monitor lizards are running around loose in the Cape Coral area now, but scientists are sure the species (which originated in the Nile River, where they eat crocodiles), were once pets that simply outgrew their quarters and were dumped in remote areas.

They're also pretty certain the lizards are reproducing. Have I mentioned they're fine swimmers and tree climbers, have long blue tongues and are described in the literature at "voracious"?

We'll continue to keep you posted.

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