OMG! I went to step out into the garage to bring laundry out and a 4 1/2 foot Komodo Dragon Lizard was on the entry ramp!
This was my Aunt ReRe's Facebook status update Sunday night. I laughed when I read it. She lives in SW Ranches in Broward County, FL. I figured it was an Iguana or a Basilisk.
I must apologize I stand kind of corrected.
While a Komodo Dragon would be CNN worthy (or America's Funniest Videos worthy), when she sent the picture I was surprised to see a Nile Monitor next to her A/C unit. Monitor's are the smaller cousins of the Komodos. We have an unfortunate population of them in Cape Coral on Florida's west coast, but I wasn't aware of any on the east coast. The USGS reports regular sightings in the Coral Springs and Tamarac area just north of SW Ranches.
In Cape Coral the monitors feed on the eggs of native Burrowing Owls and Gopher Tortoises as well as other reptiles, birds and mammals. Supposedly they help control the feral cat (and domestic cat?) population in Cape Coral. Score! (Since domestic cats are the #1 cause of songbird decline in the U.S.)
The big lizards are native to Africa
and are highly adaptable, living in a variety of habitats that have a water source nearby. Similar to Alligators, they have sharp teeth as juveniles and blunt powerful teeth as adults. They also have nostrils on the upper side of their snout which means they're good to go in the water. Florida Fish & Wildlife suggest removing them from the wild here in the state might not be feasible.
I walked my aunt and uncle's property on Monday and turned up nothing. I've yet to see a wild one.
Good news for my aunt - this one is probably a stray - maybe an escaped pet - and a small one at that - they can grow another 2 feet reaching lengths of 6 1/2 feet. I'm used to 4 inches Geckos outside my apartment. If I stepped out and saw a Nile Monitor I'd probably wet myself...and then wonder how it climbed the stairs.