Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 29th, 2010
It all started like we’ve see it happen hundreds of times. An irrigation district worker in Eloy, Arizona, told a farmer he saw an alligator or a dragon or something in the water.
Everyone said “What’s wrong with you, Dave?” and they laughed at him, reported local KOLD News 13.
Then more and more accounts began coming in.
Officials with Arizona’s Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS) decided to take the reports of a 5-foot to 6-foot lizard living in the desert seriously, and go take a look. Quickly the group from tail drag marks and fresh digs. The accounts turned out to be true. The sightings led to a surprising discovery.
In this 2008 file photo, Daniel Marchand of the Phoenix Herpetological Society drapes a rescued Asian water monitor over his shoulder.
Members of the PHS said they searched the desert in Eloy following accounts of a large lizard and found a 5 ft, 4 in reptile within a few minutes, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported earlier this week on May 26th.
The animal was positively identified as an Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator). The lizard appeared to have been living in the desert for several months. They grow up to 6 feet long, and can live 25 years.
“He’s a little thin. His tail area should be fatter,” PHS’ reptile handler Dan Marchand said, who speculated it was a released or escaped pet.
The lizard was taken to the Phoenix Herpetological Society’s sanctuary to recover.
Second largest lizard in the world (only to the Komodo Dragon) is the Asian water monitor. This one found in 2005, is examined by Debbie Gibson, PHS vice president, and her colleague Dan Marchand, curator.