Listen, I love reptiles. On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I took a trip to a bridge over the Tarcoles river, a well-known vantage point to see “a shitload of crocodiles,”* as a friend worded it. The bridge (really a highway overpass with about 18 inches of shoulder for pedestrians) truly delivered: What looked like floating logs slowly came into focus, and I realized that a mere 30 feet or so was all that separated me from well over a dozen crocs. It was awesome.
That being said, I don’t think I’d be super happy if I found what appears to be an Asian water monitor lizard in my kitchen, like this person did. (Biologist David Steen confirms that "It looks very much like a monitor lizard in the Varanidae family, but it's difficult to say much else" without solid info on where this video took place.) The poor thing was probably just scared and confused, and it deserves our sympathy, but trying to soothe it would be inadvisable: monitor lizards can fuck you up, as their teeth are extremely sharp. Just check out this video (warning: lots of blood) from someone bitten by his pet monitor lizard. And using the water cooler for scale, this one looks to be about four feet long.
According to the IUCN, the species is not particularly vulnerable. They are hunted in some areas of Southeast Asia for their skins, but protected in countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand. The IUCN also tells us that “the presence of man does not deter these monitors from areas with human disturbance…as they have been reported to thrive in agricultural areas (e.g., rice, oil palm) and even cities with canal systems.” No kidding.
In this video, the panicked lizard thrashes around on the kitchen counter, knocking over and possibly breaking a variety of dinnerware, while the videographer retreats behind a corner and whistles tentatively at the animal. Nice try, buddy, but you’ll need to call in some professionals.
*Please do not feed wildlife.