Pssst .... Wanna Buy a Monitor Lizard?

During decades of rambling about on land and water I've been chased, harassed and/or nearly eviscerated, at last count, by 1,837 different species in the animal kingdom, including a grizzly bear in Alaska, runaway yaks in Nepal, a shark in Long Island Sound, a bull moose in Maine, numerous copperhead snakes, an angry bull, whiteface hornets, overly protective swans guarding their nests, a veritable kennel of dogs ranging from Chihuahuas to Rottweilers, dive-bombing terns, and once, by a chicken that ran after me for nearly a mile – what was THAT all about?

Had I been paying attention to police warnings earlier this summer I might have been even more apprehensive about animal attacks, considering that one of the most fearsome predators roamed near one of my regular running routes – a monitor lizard.

Authorities shot and killed the 3-4-foot-long reptile last week after a Ledyard resident called 911 to report an "alligator" was attacking chickens in her backyard coop.

The lizard apparently had escaped a month or more earlier from a home where it likely had been kept as a pet, prompting authorities to issue a BOLO (be on the lookout) for a nasty, Godzilla-like creature with lightning-fast reflexes, powerful jaws and a whipping tail. Though the critter had been spotted frequently around the eastern part of town, no one reported it missing – not surprising considering that monitors are illegal in Connecticut.

You wouldn't know this detail from the many ads offering monitor lizards for sale that popped up on my computer screen the other day when I researched the reptiles.

"Below is our list of available monitor lizards for sale. You can buy Savannah monitors, Nile monitors, Water monitors, as well as many other incredible species. Highly carnivorous with insatiable appetites, it's always an adventure feeding these lizards. There are very few reptiles as impressive, or as intelligent, as monitors. They are without question some of the most entertaining lizards in the world, and if you buy a monitor lizard from us, it is guaranteed to arrive alive and in excellent condition," one advertisement boasts.

Prices range from $25.99 for a baby Savannah monitor to $6,999.99 for a pair of black dragon water monitors.

Like many states Connecticut bans monitors because they are a threat to humans, pets and native wildlife. They are on a long list of "Category 2" animals that can't be privately owned, including alligators, cobras, vipers, rattlesnakes, pythons and anacondas. The list of "Category 1" animals banned except by licensed zoos and nature centers includes lions, tigers, leopards, wolves, bears and large primates.

Connecticut passed its law in response to the infamous 2009 chimp attack on a woman who sustained horrific injuries to her face and hands, and the legislation went into effect just as the mass shooting of a menagerie of exotic animals set loose by a deranged, suicidal man in Ohio made international headlines.

At that time I found it was almost as easy to buy a Bengal tiger as it is today to buy a monitor lizard, and wrote a blog with a headline similar to this missive.

The sad fact remains: People are repeatedly forced to pass laws to prevent what should be common sense: Nobody should keep wild, dangerous animals as pets.

Not a week goes by that some tragedy befalls an irresponsible pet owner or some unlucky bystander: two young boys crushed by a Burmese python that escaped from a pet store; leopards, lions and tigers mauling their handlers; a killer whale clamping onto a trainer's pony tail and pulling her to her underwater death.

We never seem to learn.

Monitor lizards apparently are brilliant escape artists, judging from various online reports. One woman described a terrifying encounter with a loose one in California, but then went on to ask a lizard dealer if one would be an appropriate pet for her young son.

The dealer said he carried many different types of monitor lizards, some measuring only 2 feet long, while others, such as the crocodile monitor, can grow to 16 feet. Most are carnivorous.

Some are untamable.

I think that's all you need to know.

What I find particularly disturbing is that some people find it entertaining to observe such predators devour the prey on which it must be fed. One online poster described the "glory" of "watching an aroused monitor lizard chasing a big male mouse around the cage."

What fun, for the whole family.

I'm sorry police had to shoot the hapless monitor lizard in Ledyard last week. I'm just as sorry they haven't found the owner.

But I'm not sorry the critter didn't dart out while I ran by one morning and try to clamp onto my leg.

I have enough trouble eluding dogs and chickens.

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

Sun, Sun, Sun Here It Comes (Enough Already!)

When I was a kid, the Fourth of July was one of the year’s high holy days, right up there with Halloween and the last day of school, because that was when my parents took my sister and me to the beach for the annual fireworks...

How To Build An Adirondack Chair Out Of Skis In 14,387 Easy Steps

Many people I know share my passion for outdoor recreation but I also have a little secret: Between rounds of kayaking, hiking, gardening, wood-splitting and other activities I also savor the simple act of lounging quietly on a sunny day in a...

A Comedy – And Nearly A Tragedy – Of Errors On Maine's Saddleback Mountain: In The Age Of Cellphones, A Failure To Communicate

A refreshing breeze cooled me despite a blazing late-afternoon sun as I scrambled up the final rocky slope to the 4,121-foot summit of Maine’s Saddleback Mountain earlier this week, but I paused for only a moment to gaze at the glorious,...

Gardening Is Simple! Just Stick Stuff In The Ground And Voila! A Cornucopia Of Fresh Veggies! (Right)

Anyone who has ever attempted to grow vegetables soon realizes it is a true labor of love, with particular emphasis on the labor.

An Explorer’s Guide To The Great Indoors: Hotels Designed For ‘Adventurers’

During decades of traipsing through the wilderness I’ve slept, or attempted to sleep, in every conceivable indoor and outdoor quarters: in freshly dug snow caves; alongside bug-infested swamps; during thunderstorms with no tent; in the...

Alligators, Gorillas, Bears, Snakes, Even Cows: Danger Lurks Where You Least Expect It

The awful story this week about a 2-year-old boy who witnesses said was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon near a Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando, Florida and later found dead serves as a reminder that danger lurks even in "The...

This Bud’s For You: The Unofficial King Of Beer Litter

While kayaking the other morning I spotted a small, dark object poking above the lake surface 100 yards or so ahead, and I was pretty sure it was the head of a turtle until I drew closer and realized the sad truth: just another beer...

Chaotic Fun At The Essex River Race

Shortly before the start of the late-great Rose Arts Road Race several years ago, a 10.47-mile running competition over the hills of Norwich considered one of New England’s toughest courses, my friend Bob and I decided to jog a couple miles...

Tom And Steve’s Excellent Adventures In The Northwest Part III: Kayaking Off The Oregon Coast And Columbia River Gorge; Hiking On Mount Saint Helens

Propelled by the sound of crashing surf, my son Tom and I scrambled over a low dune and then gazed in awe.

A Connecticut Yankee In The Northwest Part II: A Cross-Country Ski Adventure, Of Sorts, At Oregon's Crater Lake

Lugging back-country skis and poles on our shoulders, my son Tom and I trudged along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway at Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, searching for a section of road that had not been plowed.

A Connecticut Yankee In The Northwest: Stunning Views, Adventures On Land And Water (Part I)

As I clambered toward the crest of the Mist Trail in California’s Yosemite National Park a couple weeks ago, spray from the thunderous Nevada Fall washed over me, but I was already soaked, with sweat, after gaining nearly 2,000 feet of...

Vacations From Hell: At Least They’re Memorable

Just between us, don’t you hate it when friends or coworkers post photos on Facebook of awesome journeys to exotic destinations – or if they’re really old-school, send postcards depicting glorious sunsets, sparkling lakes,...