“Exotic, cat-eating Nile monitor lizards are invading Palm Beach County, Florida to create breeding grounds,” en.yibida.com reports. “As a result, shotgun-carrying wildlife officials are increasing their patrols.” Somehow I don’t think it’s a conscious effort on the part of the lizards, but hey, if it saves just one cat . . . And it sounds like the Sunshine State’s scattergunners are gonna save a lot of felines. “The huge Nile monitor lizards, which can reach over five feet long (152 cm) and 15 pounds (6.8 kg). Note: neither of the animals above is a cat and I’m not exactly sure what’s going on there. Anyway, a little history . . .

In past years they have been spotted from time to time along canal banks in Palm Springs.

The monitor lizards first lived in South Florida as pets. However, several of them have escaped captivity or have been released into the wilderness, becoming a bother to humans.

A bother to humans, eh? Why do I suspect that there’s more to this story than a few missing felines? Maybe I’ve read too many Steven King novels. Or maybe it’s the state’s “take no monitors” approach to the species.

Jenny Eckles works as an FFW (Florida Fish and Wildlife) biologist. She says that due to the lizard population’s small expansion it is possible to “eradicate” them, according to Palm Beach Post.

State wildlife officials throughout the region have been seen carrying shotguns, according to Sun Sentinel.  Their goal is to kill as many of the monitors as possible before the start of the breeding season.

So, the state wildlife officials are carrying shotguns. Hmmm. I know! Send in the Chipotle ninjas! As Richard Nixon claimed to reply when presented with the possibility of covering-up the Watergate break-in, we could do that, but it would be wrong.

In Africa, the creatures’ natural habitat, the huge lizards have a history of eating housecats. There have been similar unconfirmed reports in Cape Coral, which have involved disappearing puppies and feral cats.
Various other items are included on the Nile monitor lizard’s daily menu. They include fish, reptiles, owls, and other small mammals.

The good news is that the Nile monitor lizards usually do not show aggression towards humans. However, the FFW has warned that the reptiles have sharp claws and will defend themselves if they feel threatened.

Yeah, that’s a good news, bad news story for sure. So, how about a Nile monitor lizard season?

79 Responses to FL Wildlife Officials Terminating Cat-Eating Nile Monitor Lizards – with Shotguns

    • It’s Florida. Just shoot em. Same as hogs, no season, no permit (cept in Wildlife Management areas). A few rules on how you can shoot (not over houses or roads) and that’s that.

      • Yeah I live in Florida, and Palm Beach county is one of those places old North Easterners come to die. It probably wouldn’t end well.

      • I live in Florida too, and while there is no season for hogs, you DO need a permit. What you don’t need are tags.

        Even the python hunts require a permit. Frankly I’m not quite sure why, except I think the state is trying to make money on them. Otherwise they would just declare them to be nuisances and then you wouldn’t need a permit.

        • It’s just a license right? Not a hog permit but a hunting license if I recall correctly.

        • To be clear, a hunting license is only needed for hog hunting on PUBLIC land (and then, there is no bag limit or season or tags, I believe… I’m not 100% sure because I rarely hunt hog on public land). On PRIVATE land however, there is no need for license of any sort. Doesn’t even have to be YOUR private land so long as you have permission. With as much damage as these critters do, its not hard at all to convince a landowner to allow you to hunt for them on his property. Some will even make it worth your while.

  1. Larry lizard looks like he just wants a ride on Bowser’s back, and he’s having a problem finding the stirrup.

    • Nile monitor lizards have a very unpleasant temperament.

      They are fast and have powerful jaws with sharp teeth as youth, not so much sharp as adults…

      People bought them because they look cool but found out later they’re vicious bastards.

      And like pythons, they let them go in the wild.

        • I had one when I was young and it was a nasty little bastard When you reached into its cage But was friendly when you actually picked it up.

  2. Can we eat them?

    It is a serious question!

    We have large populations from most of the islands of the Atlantic and if you make that lizard fair game for eating then the population gets controlled real quick like.

  3. Photo caption:

    “Hold still! You wouldn’t believe what I just crawled through — I need to clean it off!”

  4. It’s a ‘relevance’ grab.

    Well, an attempted grab.

    Not the lizard, the Florida “shotgun-carrying wildlife officials “, and they missed.

  5. Seems like they should export them to cities with stray cat/dog problems. Shelter overcrowded? Rent-a-lizard to the rescue!

    But then what will eat the lizards when there are too many of them? Somebody get that fly swallowing old lady on the line. She should know what to do.

    • Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend. Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
      Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.
      Lisa: But aren’t the snakes even worse?
      Skinner: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
      Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
      Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

  6. My wife used to be a duty officer in south Florida with the earlier incarnation of this agency. She dealt with komodo dragons, monitor lizards, spitting cobras, pythons, leopards, and any other exotic pet people could lay claim to or smuggle. Nothing new here except they’re finally getting around to shooting some of them.

  7. So one introduced animal is eating another? Eh.

    Honestly the more concerning part is how fond they are of eggs–alligator eggs, ground nesting bird eggs, etc.

  8. Nile monitors are nasty. Couple of friends had them as pets when we were kids. They are smaller versions of the Komodo dragon. Very sharp bite. Getting whipped by an adult’s tail can break skin, and cause significant pan. Long sharp claws as well. Not sure if they carry the bacteria in their bite that komodo’s do, but I wouldn’t want to find out. Fast as hell also. Those buggers can move when they want to. Trying grabbing one, and they are as hard to hold on to as a squirrel. Nothing but squirmy muscle.

    • Isn’t all that an excellent reason for a lightweight, easy-handling semi-auto rifle with a large (say, 30-round) magazine?

    • As it turns out the komodo is in fact venomous after all. (When, say, Wild Kingdom did their episode on Komodos back in the 60s (or was it the 50s?), it was thought that it was not venomous, merely infectious, but now, they’re back to saying it’s venomous.)

      I have no idea about the nile monitor. I know people who used to own savannah monitors though. Apparently easier to manage.

      • Niles are probably the *worst* commonly available pet lizard possible. Sav’s aren’t exactly easy to care for correctly but they’re manageable. Niles really aren’t. They’re large (4-7′ in length), tend to be very cranky, benefit from being able to swim and climb…they’re just godawful choices as a pet lizard. Bearded dragons, crested geckos, leopard geckos, fat tail geckos, pictus, there’s lots of good choices but frigging nile monitors are not one of them. I hate it when I see them on tables for 20 bucks at reptile shows.

        • Steppe runners are awesome little bug hunters. Much easier to care for than some of the bigger lizards, can tame quick too.

    • If they eat carrion they probably have bacteria-bite. Till I read Steve’s post above, I thought that’s what gave the Komodos their “poison”.

      • Yeah, it’s ironic. They spent decades publicizing that komodos being venemous was a misconception. Then they find out, by golly there really is some venom there (I don’t doubt there’s a lot of infectiousness too), so now they have to tell people, Oh no they really are venomous and half of them will say, “Haven’t you heard? No they’re not! Geez, that was debunked decades ago!”

      • I used to train dogs for a living. Dogs are great. And I love cats. I have a big one who runs to the door growling if he hears something that he doesn’t like, but he only does it when I’m home. He’s a good “watch cat.”

        • Dogs are pack animals and typically are very trainable. Read an article recently where the author claimed that cats have never really been domesticated. In other words, they train us to put up with them. In general, I have to agree. Though I have seen some exceptions to that. Cats are often very solitary creatures and many seem to not really care if someone is around or not. Most dogs get lonely when their owner and/or another dog is not keeping them company. Again, there are exceptions and, just like people, all dogs do not get along with every other dog they come into contact with. Pros and cons to both types of animals but I favor dogs more than cats for a companion pet.

        • @Gatha58, one of my late cats was smarter than any dog I ever trained, and as a professional I trained some great dogs. Some cats learn complex behaviors way faster than dogs.

          As for cats being solitary, no. They can’t hunt in packs, but feral cats tend to gather in large groups. Outdoor cats can be distant from strangers. Indoor cats are extremely companionable and can be very friendly even to people they don’t know.

          When I’m gone for more than a couple of days for business or vacation, my cats get sad, even though they like the woman who sees to them.

          Thus endeth the lesson.

      • I never had much of a soft spot for cats, till my macho man son got a cat for a pet. Out of respect for him I have developed more respect for the felines.

      • Feline fan here. We train ours; make behavior that you want become the cat’s habits and Bob’s your uncle. IMHO, they are such creatures of habit that they are easy to train for some tasks.

        • @Geoff PR: I don’t think so, at least with ours. If something was irregular, deviated too much from procedure, our cats would raise alarm. Eventually, they would do their business but not without great distress. We’ve had litter boxes get covered or even moved to a different room and there was evidence of much consternation and creativity amongst the cats. With cats, it’s about routines and associated details. They like consistency. The smartest ones tend to practically behave as if suffering from OCD. I’ve seen some very smart dogs act like that too.

    • Given that cats are significantly responsible for the endangered status of many bird species, I’d rather have a cat hunting season.

  9. I was all ready to freak out about how killing these magnificent and regal saurian apex predators because they annihilated a bunch of cats (which I was going to add is no easy feat and I’m sure the little bastards deserved it by being cat dicks) is a travesty of natural justice and karma blah, blah, etc..

    …then I figured out this wasn’t about Komodo Dragons like I thought I read and now I’m all good with everyone wanting to blow monitor lizards away.

    http://i.imgur.com/oAkYiUA.jpg

    • Komodos are monitors too. Mind you, they are the Mother Of All Monitors (and the Grandmother of All Lizards) but monitors nonetheless.

  10. I have a place in SW Florida. Turns out a breeding pair of the damned things was found in the undergrowth about 100 yards from my front door (in a gated community). The local wildlife folks advised the property managers that they had gotten both of them-each around 5-6 feet long-and that they were monitoring (no pun intended) the site.

    Not long after, they discovered it was in use again, so we’re still on the lookout for them.

  11. As a resident of Palm Beach County and living next to a canal.
    I see all sorts of non native critters around here.
    Eventually they will have a season for hunting them. Same as they do for the snakes and pigs in the Everglades.
    No limits night hunting with lights the whole package. Cost will be cheap for the licenses and plenty will be more then happy to bag as many as they can find.
    All I need is my 10-22 and a flashlight.
    Let me loose………………………

  12. As non native animals, they may have no natural predators to keep their numbers in check. Furthermore, they may be able to overwhelm native animals with no defenses to them.

    Kill them all.

    • Cats and dogs aren’t native either. A single free-range house cat can kill hundreds of birds in a year, all of them surplus killing because they get fed when they return home. Should we kill all cats? It’d do a hell of a lot more to help wildlife than killing monitors.

  13. If we are talking 12 guage shotguns what ammo load are using to hunt these beasts? #4 bird shot like for geese?

  14. “So, how about a Nile monitor lizard season?”

    I can’t believe that you are suggesting more government control. If anything comes after me or my pet I have the right to put it down. Whether the critter is wild or a pet it has just opened season on itself. Please, no more laws!

  15. If that was my dog or cat… I’d kill it. kill it hard. I don’t let my cats outside for this exact reason though. Besides animals there’s also the two legged animals that might decide they don’t want my cat pissing on their lawn.

    I’m north in Martin County and if I saw one I’d be keep a rifle on my balcony. No way I’d let them live near my place.

  16. Nile Monitors versus domestic dogs and cats, battle of the invasive species! Honestly I have no sympathy for any pet eaten by a monitor, owners should never let their pets outside without accepting that there are risks. Cats (and dogs) are INCREDIBLY destructive invasive species, feral cats alone have caused nearly as many extinctions as humans have, yes cats have actually driven entire species extinct. Nile monitors may be harmful ecologically but they are nothing compared to cats, feral or free range. No one has any right to complain about pythons or monitors if they let their cat outside without a bell, end of story.

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