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Invasive water monitor lizard captured at Hawaii military base

July 1, 2014 - 10:50am

A Malayan water monitor lizard was captured on Friday at Joint Base Pearl Harbor — Hickam on Oahu, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture said Monday.

Personnel from the Hawaii Air National Guard reported seeing a large black lizard running on its hind legs on Thursday, according to the department. Initially, base pest control staff were dispatched, but they were unable to locate the lizard where it was spotted in the vicinity of a maintenance shop near the airfield.

On Friday morning, inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, personnel from the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined the search but were unable to locate the lizard. Friday afternoon, base personnel cornered the lizard and called HDOA inspectors who were able to capture the animal.

The lizard measures about 18 inches in length, according to the department.

Base personnel report that there was a recent arrival of containerized equipment from Malaysia and it is suspected that the lizard may have been a hitchhiker.

Water monitor lizards are native to India, China, Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and New Guinea, according to the department. They live in tropical areas in the vicinity of bodies of water.

A water monitor lizard may grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh more than 100 pounds. Their diet is varied and may consist of crabs, mollusks, fish, snakes, turtles, birds, frogs, lizards, rodents, eggs, monkeys, small deer and carrion. In Hawaii, the lizard poses a threat to native and ground-nesting birds, according to the department.

Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST. Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or Humane Society — no questions asked and no fines assessed.

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