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Nile Monitor Trapping

elviscrCape Coral is home to three species of large, invasive lizards: the Nile Monitor, the Green Iguana, and the Spiny-tailed Iguana.  While both types of iguana are found all over Florida, Nile Monitors are unique to this area.  They were introduced sometime before 1990, probably as a result of the pet trade, and the population in Cape Coral is believed to be over one thousand.

Nile Monitors are carnivores, and they are extremely good predators.  They'll eat anything - fish, turtles, mollusks, birds, mammals, and eggs.  They live in burrows in the ground, generally near canals. They are excellent swimmers, able to hold their breath for up to an hour, and can run up to 18 mph on land.  Nile Monitors can grow to 7 feet long, so the potential harm to wildlife in the area - including burrowing owls - is great.

Because of that threat, the Environmental Resources Division conducts a trapping program.  If you see a Nile Monitor near your property, please call us at 574-0785, and we will attempt to trap it.

We do not trap iguanas; however, you may contact a private trapper for assistance.  Most private trappers will charge a fee.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission maintains a list of registered nuisance wildlife trappers on their website.

Nile Monitors are concentrated in the Southwest portion of the Cape.  The following map shows this clearly - data points represent captured lizards (since 2002) and other confirmed sightings (recorded since 2007):

Nile Monitor sightings and catches map.

Is it a Nile Monitor or an Iguana?

Here's what to look for to tell the difference.  Scroll down for photos of each species.

Color-Iguanas tend to be green to brown, sometimes with orange legs.  They have big black bands on their tail.  Spiny-tailed Iguanas are darker in color than Greens.  Monitors are black with yellow spots.

Shape-Iguanas are thicker than monitors; monitors are more snake-like and have a narrower head.

Spines-Iguanas have a row of spikes down their back.  Monitors do not.  The spines are more obvious on Green Iguanas than on Spiny-tailed Iguanas, though Spiny-tailed Iguanas also have spines on their tails.

Links to more information:

Nile Monitor Brochure (.pdf)

Monitor Lizard Eradication paper (.pdf) by Dr. Todd Campbell

Dealing with Iguanas in Florida (UF-IFAS)

Nonnative Reptiles in South Florida ID Guide (.pdf)

Tegu_Identification_by_Kevin_Enge (.pdf)

Tegu Brochure (.pdf)

Nile Monitor:

monitor b
Photo by Bill Bayless 

monitor  smaller
Photo by Bill Bayless 

Photo by Todd Campbell

Green Iguana:

Photo by Bob Mondgock

iguana a
Photo by Bill Bayless

Photographer unknown

Spiny-tailed Iguana:

Spiny tailed iguana
Photo by W. H. Kern, Jr., University of Florida, Ft. Lauderdale

Photographer unknown

Colombian, black and white Tegu:

Colombian BW Tegu