First he crushed Tokyo. Then he ate Mothra. Now he’s terrorizing Woodland Park, Colorado: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/07/17/6-foot-lizard-loose-in-Colorado/UPI-45011342553642/?spt=mps∨=2
Dino the Nile monitor lizard is on the loose and guardians of toy dogs, toddlers and fluffy cats are on high alert. Dino is six-feet long, smart and has a highly-developed prey drive. Tragedy is just one lunge away.
It’s the kind of silly story that occasionally rises above the clatter to gain a few headlines in international media. The real tragedy here isn’t the threat Dino poses – real, sure, but remote – but the likely outcome for a smart animal that should rarely be in captivity.
Monitors include a number of species, many of them large, including the largest lizard of all, the Komodo dragon. They’re also considered highly intelligent: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/lizard-kings.html
They’re popular in the pet trade. Monitors are often offered at pet stores. A hundred bucks will buy you an eight-inch juvenile and a story that’s almost certain to have a bad end. Because that cute little lizard will grow and grow and grow. It will also become aggressive, and develop talons and teeth that could scar you for life (check out the blurb on crocodile monitor bites, as well as the skeptical take on how many monitors are actually captive-bred: http://www.mampam.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=48&Itemid=60)
Never say never, right? I’ll grant there are a handful of people with the commitment and resources required to house and keep a monitor properly. And I don’t think there should be an absolute ban on acquiring one through lawful means. But please: this is not an impulse purchase and not a pet for a reptile beginner.
Acquiring one of these should not be as simple as dropping a few month’s allowance at the local pet shop.
How will things end for Dino? Best-case scenario, he doesn’t hurt anyone or thing, he’s captured and gets placed in a safe environment, like a zoo. Worst-case scenario? He dies, like so many other captive monitors.
I’ll end this with a Komodo dragon video, just cuz they’re awesome. This one’s named Smaug: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvdLj7o2P98