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As if Burmese pythons, green iguanas, cane toads, and walking catfish aren’t bad enough, Floridians are dealing with yet another invasive species after a video surfaced on May 20 of a 5-foot-long monitor lizard crossing a road in Charlotte County.

Renee Aland spotted what she first thought was an alligator while driving through the city of North Port, which is on the Sunshine State’s Gulf Coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers. Aland wrote on her Facebook page that she “did a double take” when she passed the reptile and turned around to get another look.

“When we got closer, I looked, and I saw his tongue, lizard tongue coming out, and I was like, ‘Oh, crap, that’s not a gator!’” Alland told WBBH TV in Fort Myers.

Aland captured photos and video of the creature, which was seen entering a wooded area near a car dealership. She reported the sighting and sent her video to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which confirmed that it is a nonnative monitor lizard, although biologists could not say for certain which species.

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“We believe it to be an Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator) but are unable to definitively confirm identification based on this video,” FWC said in a statement. “Monitor lizards are considered high-priority species for the FWC’s Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Program. Our biologists are still gathering information related to sightings of this animal to determine potential response efforts and will continue monitoring.”

Asian water monitors are in the same genus as the Nile monitor lizard (Varanus niloticus), which was added to Florida’s prohibited species list in April 2021. The Asian water monitor is considered the second largest lizard species after only the Komodo dragon, with males capable of reaching a length of 6-1/2 feet and the longest on record measuring 10 feet. Their home range is south and southeast Asia, stretching through parts of India, Bangladesh, China, Sumatra, Borneo, and Java. As the name suggests, they tend to live near water, showing an affinity for not only lakes and rivers but also sewers, parks, and other city waterways.

Monitor lizards can negatively impact native species such as sea turtles, wading birds, gopher tortoises, and American crocodiles, and they even pose a risk to livestock, according the FWC, which has removed more than 800 Nile monitors from the state. Aland noted that the lizard she spotted was apparently well fed. “It had a belly hanging,” she said. “My guess is it’s been here a little while and eating pretty well.”

The department encourages people to report observations to the Invasive Species Hotline at 888-IVE-GOT1 (483-4681), via the IVEGOT1 app or online at IveGot1.org. Clear photos and/or video, along with the exact location are helpful.