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Crocodile Monitor Discovered in Riverside

November 2, 2017

Animal Control Officer Snares Unwanted Visitor

There it was, lounging in the sun atop a sturdy hedge in a backyard in Riverside. The five-pound, 4-foot long crocodile monitor lizard rested casually as Christine and J. Craig Williams’ dogs barked and alerted the couple to the unwanted visitor.

“It was out there sunning itself,” Mr. Williams said.

Riverside County Animal Services Officer John Hergenreder responded to the Las Flores Avenue property shortly before 5 p.m. on Wednesday. He snared the lizard using a loop at the end of his control stick. “It did not try to escape when I walked up to it, but it did start to hiss loudly,” Officer Hergenreder said. “It sensed I was coming to grab it.”

Now the lizard is at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley where it is being cared for properly. (It has its own holding tank in the part of the shelter known as Critter Corner.) The shelter will hold the exotic pet for a period to allow the rightful owner to claim his/her lizard. It is legal to own a crocodile monitor in California.

Kim McWhorter, a reptile expert at Riverside County Animal Services, described the critter as a crocodile monitor, a species her colleagues rarely come across when impounding exotic critters.

“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. 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.”

J. Craig Williams said he believes the lizard may have been at their property longer than they realized. Their two dogs, a 65-pound Labrador mix named Duchess, and a 12-pound Italian greyhound named Viggo, tried to let the couple know something strange was going on in the backyard.

“The dogs were really going nuts a couple nights ago,” he said.
It wasn’t until the suntan session on Wednesday afternoon that the jig was up for Mr. Lizard.

The owner should be prepared to show proof of ownership with purchase certificate, photos and videos or other proper identification. If an owner does not redeem the pet, it will be transferred to an exotic sanctuary partner.

THURSDAY, NOV. 2, 2017