ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - Reptile handlers are trying to catch a lizard believed to be four feet long that is roaming around an Escondido neighborhood.
The lizard has been spotted multiple times near Ball Avenue and Ash Street in the past few weeks.
Reptile handler Susan Nowicke said she believes the lizard has been in the area for months now. She was first contacted by a maintenance worker working on the small ponds throughout the neighborhood.
Nowicke told 10News she thinks it was initially someone's pet, adding, "They're thinking, 'Oh, it’s going to grow up and be my best friend. It’s just like a dog.' No, it’s not a dog, it’s a wild animal."
In fact, Nowicke said the four-foot-long monitor lizard is actually dangerous.
"These guys have a really nasty bite; it can lead to significant stitches and flesh wounds," she said.
The lizards can grow up to seven and a half feet long. Right now, based on cell phone video and pictures from neighbors, it is believed the lizard is between four and five feet long.
While the lizard is bigger than most wildlife in the neighborhood, it's difficult to catch because it can hide in trees, bushes and ponds. Neighbors have even spotted the lizard in storm drains throughout the neighborhood.
Nowicke is setting up bait traps throughout the neighborhood and spending hours searching day and night. She hopes to catch the lizard and bring it back to EcoVivarium, her reptile education center off South Juniper Street in Escondido.