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California couple find massive exotic lizard in back yard

By
Ben Hooper

Nov. 3 (UPI) -- A California couple who heard their dogs raising a ruckus in the back yard discovered an unexpected trespasser -- a 4-foot crocodile monitor lizard.

Craig and Christine Williams said their dogs, Labrador mix Duchess and Italian greyhound Viggo, alerted them Wednesday that something was unusual in the yard of their Riverside home.

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"The dogs were upset. So we got them into the house right away," Craig Williams told KCAL-TV. "Because that type of lizard could do a lot of damage to them and they could do a lot of damage to it."

The couple said they think the reptile had been hiding in the yard for several days.

"We had heard it earlier -- about 2 o'clock in the morning, attacking a bird in a tree. We came out expecting to find a pile of feathers but didn't find anything," Craig Williams said.

Riverside County Animal Services Officer John Hergenreder responded to the home and snared the lizard with a catch pole.

"It did not try to escape when I walked up to it, but it did start to hiss loudly," Hergenreder told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "It sensed I was coming to grab it."

Animal services said the crocodile monitor lizard is native to the tropical rainforest of New Guinea, but it is legal to own them as pets in California. The lizard is being kept at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley until it is claimed by an owner.

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