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Non-native lizards breeding near West Palm Beach

Posted at 8:14 PM, Jun 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 05:50:57-04

Kenan Harkin volunteers for the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary.

He knows about lizards and rescued 4-year-old Slinky a year ago.

Someone had Slinky as a pet, but Slinky grew too big. Instead of letting it loose, Kenan took it in.

He said, "What I have is the Asian Monitor Lizard which is the second largest species lizard on Earth."

But it appears someone let a different type of lizard loose a few years ago.

The Nile Monitor Lizard is breeding in the C-51 canal along Southern Boulevard.

"It's found throughout most sub-Saharan Africa and they live near water bodies, which again South Florida can be conducive because these animals are living in and around our canals," Harkin said.

It's enough to concern the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The lizards are non-native creatures.

They impact Florida's environment by eating the food meant for the native animals.

Carollyn Parrish, the public information coordinator for FWC said, "Their primary diet is amphibians, other reptiles, birds, eggs and they are providing competition for our wildlife."

FWC also says if someone sees the lizard, stay away. "Nile Monitor Lizards are not aggressive, but they will defend themselves so they have sharp teeth, they have strong jaws." Parrish adds, "This is a species that we want to work very hard to control and actually would like to eliminate the population but that's a large undertaking."

If you spot the lizard, FWC says take a picture, make a note of the location you saw the lizard and make sure to contact FWC.