Update: We showed the photo of the lizard to a source at The Bronx Zoo who believes it is a fake due to the way it’s positioned.
By Sabina Mollot
Earlier in the week, Valerie Nilsson, a woman walking through Stuyvesant Oval spotted what appeared to be some kind of lizard in a patch of grass. However, the three-foot-long creature appeared to be so still she wondered if it was a toy or prop someone had put there as a prank. Later noticing it was gone, she posted a photo she took of the lizard on the local Facebook group Stuyvesant Moms to ask if anyone else had seen it.
So far, no one had and Stuyvesant Town management has said no one has reported it as a missing pet.
Town & Village sent the photo to the New York State Department of Conservation, where a spokesperson said based on the photo it appeared to be a Monitor Lizard in the Varanidae family of lizards.
The lizard, the spokesperson warned, could bite, although it is likely too cold and lethargic and will not.
According to the DEC, the best way to capture the creature would be to put a box over it, slip cardboard underneath and flip to close the box.
And ideally do it soon.
The current winter temperature is not good for this species and the spokesperson warned it will not survive if left out in these temperatures. In order for it to survive, it should be placed somewhere warm very quickly.
The DEC is of the belief the lizard was someone’s pet as this species is not native to the American continent and monitors are listed under NYS “wild animals as pets” regulation. A special license is required for possession.
Monitor lizards are almost entirely carnivorous, consuming prey as varied as insects, crustaceans, arachnids, myriapods, mollusks, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
The lizard sighting comes within a week of a mysterious appearance of a bunny on First Avenue outside Stuyvesant Town, which has since been taken to a local animal hospital.
Update: In the comments, another resident who spotted the lizard, like Nilsson, also wondered if it was a replica.