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This summer there have been numerous sightings of free-ranging Nile monitor lizards in Broward and Palm Beach counties. In response, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently issued a news release calling on people to report sightings. A hotline (888-IVE-GOT1) and a website (www.IveGot1.org) have been set up to make it easy for the public to report sightings. FWC spokesperson Scott Hardin explained, “This is a high-priority species for us.”

In addition to growing very large, Nile monitor lizards are known for their aggressive nature, and sharp teeth and claws. It goes without saying that these animals make very poor “pets,” but the exotic pet trade is almost certainly where these lizards came from.

Nile monitors are illegal to possess or sell as pets in Florida, thanks to a bill that ARFF strongly supported during the 2010 legislative session. Unfortunately, other species of monitor lizards are available for purchase at local pet stores. For example, water monitors– lizards that can grow to be just as big or bigger than Nile monitors– are offered for sale at Underground Reptiles in Deerfield Beach and at Wild Cargo Pets in West Palm Beach. At Reptiles Plus in Lake Worth, you can purchase a black-throated monitor, a species that only reaches lengths of seven feet.

It is inevitable that some of the reptiles purchased at these stores will escape, or be abandoned into the wild after they become too large or expensive to care for. Unless the FWC wants to issue a similar news release in the future alerting the public to be on the lookout for water monitors, the sale and possession of these reptiles must be prohibited.

Contact the FWC and urge them to designate the water monitor (Varanus salvator), and other large, potentially dangerous species of monitor lizards as “conditional reptiles,” which would make their sale as personal pets illegal.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Online comment form.

Stopping the trade in potentially dangerous reptiles is a common-sense idea that would benefit animal welfare, improve public safety and protect Florida’s fragile environment.

4 Responses to “State wildlife agency works to eradicate Nile monitor lizards in the wild, but ignores monitor lizards sold in pet stores”

  1. on 27 Oct 2011 at 9:04 pm aron

    I disagree with such statements such as calling them illegal just like all the other crazy animals people keep as pets (like,lions,tigers and bears)people should be in possession of a similar license to possess such frequently sold animals in stead of banning them.

  2. on 03 Feb 2012 at 9:45 am anthony

    Sorry but I really disagree.. I own a savannah monitor & a black throat monitor and they are as sweet as a loving dog. It’s the owners that do not take care of these reptiles that should be getting charged for letting them lose instead of banning the they should be chipped and registered to the owner so if let lose or lost can either be charged or returned under investigation. They are wonderful pets and if anyone try’s to take my babys u better have an army!

  3. on 14 Apr 2012 at 12:55 pm Mike

    Its the small percentage of irresponsible reptile owners that create a bad name for the rest of us. I own a number of different monitor species that grow to be large when adults. All of mine are captive born with great dispositions. My Nile and Water monitors have never showed any negative behavior and probably have better personalities than most dogs. There has to be a better solution than just outright banning them. Permits and licsenses for resposible herp owners shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe stopping the importing of wild caught animals would help also. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to keep these magnificant reptiles.

  4. on 25 Jul 2013 at 4:08 pm Wilder

    This is ridiculous!There are tons of people who own alligators that attack humans much more frequently than nile monitors and yet alligators are still legal to own.And i can also bet that more people release alligators into the wild because of size. And when was the vote for banning these animal i certainly dont remember them asking citizens there opinions.

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