Monitor Lizard Captured in California: Exotic Pet Gone Wild?

Friendly reminder: all things grow.

A story out of Riverside, California has conjured up some childhood memories that suddenly have me concerned that my boys might inherit one of my (many) strange proclivities. Animal services authorities are searching for the owner of a 5-foot lizard they caught as it moseyed about a Riverside condominium complex. Animal services spokesperson, John Welsh, says that the lizard is well behaved and is likely someone’s pet. Welsh hopes that person will claim it soon.

In a related story, my mother just emitted a knowing smile while cemetery officials report that my father has turned over in his grave. I should have mom call John Welsh. She could likely provide him with a spot-on description of who Walsh should be on the lookout for.

You see, as a youth, I developed a fascination for odd pets. It started with an exotic frog named Uncle Mingo who one day hopped out an open door to a life of freedom. I was heartbroken, but not deterred. I would own another exotic pet, only I vowed to do a better job taking care of the next one.

When I was in my teens (14?), I announced to my parents that I wanted to buy an iguana. They were (obviously) reticent to welcome such a creature in their home with open arms. I assured them that, Uncle Mingo notwithstanding, I’d take excellent care of it. I must have been awfully persuasive because the following day, my mom took me to Amazon Pets and I selected a cute little iguana. I named him Stan.

There was only one problem with Stan. He didn’t remain the adorable, little, pint-sized fellow I signed up for. I went through three different-sized aquariums and was continuously forced to spring for larger and larger electronically heated rocks upon which my emotionless pet would constantly chill. It got to the point where he was enormous. No, not quite 5-feet-long like the recently apprehended Riverside lizard, but every bit of 3 feet. Maybe longer.

One year, I simply couldn’t accommodate Stan in my tiny college dorm room. (Yes, I said tiny college dorm room. I told you I was determined to take excellent care of him.) I begged and pleaded for my parents to keep Stan at their house for the Spring semester of my sophomore year. To my surprise, they agreed.

You know that point in time in every young adult’s life when he or she is convinced that his or her parents have lost their minds? Mine came at the end of that Spring semester when I arrived home. My mom greeted me at the door in a preposterously fuzzy bathrobe. At 5 in the afternoon.

Like a parrot, Stan was nonchalantly kicking it on her heavily padded shoulder.

That night my parents mixed martinis in the living room as Stan looked down from the curtain rod above the windows adjacent to where we sat. And that fall, I knew I had a difficult decision to make. Either take the lizard back to a cramped dorm room or run the risk of my parents becoming known throughout the neighborhood as “the lizard people.”

What started out as a good idea some 5 years prior, had turned into a nightmare. Stan was enormous, his orange-green-scaled limbs armed with surprising muscle. His tail could whip so powerfully that it compelled me to do some research. In trying to find out how to discourage the dreaded tail whip, I came to find out that such a motion is a natural defense mechanism for iguanas. In fact, a full-grown iguana can whip its tail with enough force to break a dog’s leg.


Yes, if my mom were to speak with John Welsh, she could, indeed, help him along with the investigation. For the profile he’s looking for is likely eerily similar to that of her youngest son during the onset of his adolescence.

Which strikes the fear of God in me. For my sons will one day be adolescents. And if they are anything like me, they, too, might want a lizard. Note to self: discourage such notions, and, if need be, put your foot down with a flat-out “NO.” Sure, it looks good on paper, but raising a lizard isn’t the cute little endeavor it may seem to a child.

So what ever happened to Stan, you might wonder? It’s a story of mystery, really. He got so large that during my senior year in college, I decided to purchase a ficus tree for him, one big enough to accommodate his collection of various-sized heated rocks. He pretty much had a whole room to himself in a run-down house my friends and I rented.

Said room was near an outside door, and during a party someone left that door open. Like Uncle Mingo, Stan made a break for it. I often wonder what ever happened to him. He must be huge by now.

Hey. Wait a minute. You don’t suppose… NO. There’s no way.


What’s the strangest pet you have ever had? What about your children? What’s the strangest pet they’ve ever had?

Source: AP via theDailyCaller

Image: stock.xchng

John Cave Osborne’s personal blog.
John Cave Osborne’s book website.

Article Posted 5 years Ago
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