Giant lizard found in residential backyard: Creature looking for family

This crocodile monitor lizard was found by a Riverside couple Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

A four-foot-long lizard that looked as though it had crawled out of the jungles of Borneo was captured behind a Riverside home and now waits to be claimed at a Riverside County animal shelter.

The crocodile monitor lizard was found Wednesday afternoon at the home of Christine and Craig Williams on Las Flores Avenue, just south of the Riverside (91) Freeway, near California Citrus State Historic Park, according to the Department of Animal Services.

Williams told the agency that his two dogs began barking furiously at something in his backyard — and then he noticed the mini-dragon-like monitor “out there sunning itself.”

The lizard was perched on a hedge, where animal services officer John Hergenreder approached it, cautiously, a short time later.

“It did not try to escape when I walked up to it, but it did start to hiss loudly,” he said.

Hergenreder was able to snare the lizard with the retractable wire on his control stick and place the creature in a pickup truck for an otherwise uneventful delivery to the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley.

A video of the lizard is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5f910TXWqc&feature=youtu.be.

The department’s resident “reptile expert,” Kim McWhorter, was wowed by the find.

“Crocodile monitors are not usually kept as pets by private individuals,” McWhorter said. “They need specialized care, mostly due to the large size they can reach. An owner would need a custom-built, room-sized enclosure.”

“We hope the owner realizes we have their pet now,” she added. “People are accustomed to coming to the shelter if they lose a dog or cat, but don’t necessarily think of us when they lose a lizard.”

According to agency spokesman John Welsh, in order for the pet to be redeemed, the owner will need to present documents proving that it’s his or her lizard, including a certificate of purchase, photographs, videos or similar means of showing the lizard belongs with that person.

Welsh said if the monitor isn’t claimed within the next couple of months, it will be transferred to an exotic animal sanctuary.

He noted that it is legal to own crocodile monitors in California.

–City News Service