A huge lizard that evaded Florida authorities for more than a year was recently caught and “humanely” killed in Key Largo, and will no longer be threatening local humans and wildlife.
“Elusive lizard captured!” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wrote on Facebook on Thursday. The Asian Water monitor was indeed a big boy or girl, measuring five-feet-two-inches long and weighing 20 pounds, according to the post.
The species is invasive in Florida and is native to South and Southeast Asia. They are the world’s second-heaviest lizard after the Komodo dragon, and feature prominently in the global wildlife trade with as many as 1.5 million skins sold annually.
It’s not clear how the monitor got on the loose, but the species was first observed in Florida in 1978 due to the pet trade. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission discourages people from releasing exotic pets into the wild—especially large reptiles—as they can be fatal to native flora and fauna.
Whatever the cause, the specter of the lizard haunted the Florida Keys community for too long.
“Staff, volunteers and partners have been setting traps and searching high and low to remove this nonnative reptile for over a year,” officials wrote, adding that it was “humanely killed.”
Another, even larger monitor was captured last year in the Florida town of Davie after repeatedly trespassing into a family’s backyard. The escaped reptile belonged to a local teenage boy who had named it “Bamboo, according to the Washington Post. ” After many unsuccessful attempts to trap the animal, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission finally caught and returned it to the family, who were issued a criminal citation for not caging the lizard.
The state currently has no restrictions on owning the species. Authorities said at the time that Asian water monitors had not established a breeding population unlike other invasive lizards, such as the Nile monitor.
Rest in peace, tiny Godzilla.