‘Monster’ lizard is menacing a family in their backyard. Even trappers are stumped

A giant Nile monitor lizard appeared on a Broward family's pool deck. (Courtesy of Zachary Lieberman)
A giant Nile monitor lizard appeared on a Broward family's pool deck. (Courtesy of Zachary Lieberman)
Published August 30 2018
Updated August 30 2018

This is one giant lizard the meteor missed ó and itís in a Davie neighborhood.

According to Martin County Trappings & Removals, a six-foot Nile monitor or an Asian monitor is driving a Davie family nuts. So far, itís not cooperating with the rescue groupís plans to capture the remnant of the late Mesozoic era.

On Tuesday, "Trapper Mike" aka Mike Kimmel of the Martin County agency posted one bit of success on Facebook in the groupís efforts at corralling the Nile monitor that has staked territory in a lakefront and leafy Davie community: "Got this monster of an invasive cane toad while hunting down a 6ft monitor in Davie... wish me luck yíall this lizard Iím tracking is HUGE!"

But so far luck isnít on humansí side.

The Lieberman family ó Zachary and Maria and their two young children ó spotted the monitor in their backyard a few days ago strolling about and flicking its tongue and no amount of people tricks such as chasing it or shooting phone video have convinced the carnivorous beast to find a family of its own far away, WPLG Local 10 reported.

"We havenít captured it yet and weíve been diligently trying," Zachary Lieberman said in an interview with the Miami Herald Wednesday. "The FWC was out here and a couple of local trappers and Iíve been out there and we thought we had a good lead on it today. We were tracking it down but came up empty handed."

Lieberman said a dog helped trappers by picking up on the monitorís scent and led them to a hole. A trapper with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stuck a scope down the hole but, alas, it was empty.

"It might have burrowed into the area," Lieberman said. "The area Iím at is heavily forested, a big preserve, so itís got a lot of hiding places. Itís not as easily accessible."

Except when it wants to be. A couple days after it was shushed away into the woodsy grounds the monitor showed up again, pressing its mug right up against the sliding glass window in the Liebermanís back porch near their fenced-in pool.

Monitors swim, too, which makes them happy in South Florida even though Nile or Asian water monitors are considered invasive in Florida, according to environmental groups like Martin County Trappings and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. You canít make them pets in Florida.

On Tuesday, Trapper Mike posted on Facebook of his groupís efforts, alongside the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, of their shared efforts in trying to trap monitor.

"Didnít get it, sun never came out making it very hard," the Martin County Trappings post read. "Worked [with] FWC so hopefully they will trap before this weekend, if not Iíll be back."

Nile monitors are particularly populous in Cape Coral in southwest Florida. Cape Coralís Environmental Resources Division conducts a trapping program to help reduce the population.

Experts warn that these monitors, though not venomous, can bite and leave a nasty wound, especially on small children, which populate the Davie neighborhood this monitor has made home.

"Itís scary itís out there," Lieberman said. "When I first encountered it it wasnít afraid of humans. If it gets up close to a human and gets spooked that is when bad things can happen. It looks like it ate something big, like a raccoon. When animals go missing people think itís the Chupacabra," he said, with a chuckle.

This isnít a mysterious figure like the so-called Chupacabra. But that doesnít make this monitor any less of a nuisance. As summer hits the peak of heat in South Florida the Liebermans have had to adjust their lifestyles to accommodate an unwelcome visitor.

The coupleís children are 2 and 4 and usually are in the pool every day, their dad said.

"Since itís been in our backyard my wife is scared to go in the pool, and rightly so. Itís a water monitor and likes to swim. This thing can come flying out of the bushes and see small children as food. Thatís not an easy situation to deal with," Lieberman said.

He says the familyís lifestyle has changed as a result of the monitorís arrival. "Until we catch it the kids are not going in the pool and not swimming and these are things we like to do in South Florida in the summer."

Maria Lieberman posted a video to her Facebook page of news groups talking to trappers on her property. A Facebook friend responded in the thread that itís "Time to move!" and posted a Realtorís listing of a Parkland residence.