World's Longest Lizard Caught Sunbathing In California Man's Garden

World's Longest Lizard Caught Sunbathing In California Man's Garden

Invasive species are no strangers to the Golden State, which now harbors a diverse catalogue of introduced parrot species, pond-side alligators, and more. But an over four-foot lizard from the island of New Guinea? That’s new.

Of all the things you expect to find in your backyard on a November day in sunny California, a four-foot-long crocodile monitor lizard isn’t probably high on your list of animals you’re likely to see by your bird feeder.

However, that’s exactly what one Riverside resident, Craig Williams, came face-to-face with this past Wednesday when his dogs started barking uncontrollably. The large reptile — which is native to treetops of New Guinea, thousands of miles away in the southwestern Pacific — was sunning itself on a trimmed hedge in his garden, minding its own business.

But, even just sunning itself, its sheer presence was more than enough to rile-up the neighborhood animals.

“The dogs were upset. So we got them into the house right away,” said Williams, according to CBS Los Angeles. “Because that type of lizard could do a lot of damage to them and they could do a lot of damage to it.”

Authorities from the Riverside County Department of Animal Services later came and rounded-up the let-loose lizard. Because the animal is so far from it’s endemic habitat, there’s no doubt that it belongs to some local owner who’s likely been looking for his misplaced monitor.

“It’s very unusual to find a monitor lizard like this in the pet trade, they’re not the most popular monitor pets that people generally keep,” said Kim McWhorter, reptile expert at Riverside County Animal Services. “So given that we know this has an owner out there somewhere that’s probably actively trying to find it.”

“You just have to be conscious of the fact if you’re getting a pet like this that they need some pretty specialized caging. As you can see this one somehow got out because they can be pretty strong with ripping things open and squeezing through small spaces,” McWhorter went on to add.

Crocodile monitors are the longest monitor species in the world, often approaching more than ten-feet in length, about a two-thirds of its body being purely tail; komodo dragons are the world's’ heaviest lizards.

(Feature image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)