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Escaped water monitor lizard spotted in Florida

By Ben Hooper

July 22 (UPI) -- A large water monitor lizard first spotted on a Florida resident's porch over a month ago appears to have made a second appearance in the same town.

Susan Stahley said she was in her back yard Sunday when she heard a strange sound that turned out to be a massive water monitor crawling toward her fence.

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"It surely did surprise me," Stahley told WFLA-TV.

Stahley captured video of the water monitor as it fled toward a nearby wooded area.

The animal is suspected to be the same large water monitor spotted in June on North Port resident Erik Merlo's porch.

Merlo said he came outside when he heard a sound he thought was his girlfriend, but turned out to be the big lizard, which he caught on camera before it fled the area.

A local man identified as Richie said he believes the water monitor to be his pet lizard, which escaped while he was in the hospital.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission classifies water monitors as an invasive species that could pose a risk to the local ecosystem.

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