The Nile monitor is a large, nonnative lizard that has been introduced to Florida. A typical adult Nile monitor can grow over 5 feet in length and weigh close to 15 pounds. Nile monitors are light yellow to dark olive or brown in color. They have a pattern of light yellow chevron markings on the back, which appear as bands or stripes closer to the head and tail. The top side of the tail tapers up in the shape of a rudder to assist in swimming.
Nile monitors are semi-aquatic and are often found basking or foraging for food along canal banks in Florida. If encountered, they typically flee into the water. Once in the water, they can swim swiftly and stay submerged for an extended period. These reptiles are almost exclusively active during the daytime, spending nights sleeping in burrows or hiding in other refuges.
The Nile monitor is listed as a conditional species in Florida and cannot be acquired as a pet in the state.
The Nile River delta and Sub-Saharan Africa
This map shows confirmed sightings of Nile monitors as of April, 2015. Recent confirmed sighting information is available online at IveGot1.org.
Nile monitors are known to have breeding populations in Lee, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Observations of this species have been documented throughout the state, including multiple observations in Broward County.
History of introduction and management
Current populations in Florida were likely founded by escaped or released pets. The FWC is currently working with other agencies and organizations to assess the threat of this species and develop management strategies. The FWC is in the process of identifying populations of Nile monitors and removing them when possible. Officials periodically patrol and remove Nile monitors when sighted on state-owned and managed lands. Local government in Lee County operates a trapping removal program to remove Nile monitors sighted in the area. Federal government entities control the Nile monitor population at Homestead Air Reserve Base in Miami-Dade County.
Nile monitors feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and eggs.
Because Nile monitors eat such a varied diet, the FWC is assessing whether this species may have an impact on Florida’s native wildlife.