Police sent to hunt for 5ft African lizard in Halifax

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Pet owners have been left terrified after a huge exotic lizard was spotted on the loose in a built-up area of Halifax.

Officers were sent to hunt for the creature, believed to be a Nile monitor, after several sightings.

They searched a small park in the King Cross Road area of the town thoroughly at 11.35am on Monday, but could find no trace of the reptile, which is believed to have escaped from captivity as a pet.

Local resident Ashley Skeldon said:

"Everyone was saying it was a crocodile at first, but we believe it is a Nile monitor lizard and it is about five feet long.

"Yesterday morning at 10am a bulldog-type dog went into the park and got chased out by it. We have had the police out and Environmental Health and they found a big dog bone.

"It's been around for possibly two or three weeks. Normally they would come out in the day because they like the heat but it has been coming out when it's quiet.

"We think it's been kept as an illegal pet, been let out because it has got too big and it's now a public safety problem."

Rumours the lizard has killed a dog have not been verified.

Nile monitors, which are common in Egypt, eat insects, birds, rodents, fish, frogs, other reptiles, eggs, and any other animal small enough for them to catch. They are also opportunistic scavengers and will eat the carcasses of dead animals. Their habitat can range from deserts to forests and savannas. Some monitors spend their time on the ground and others live happily in trees, but most are good climbers.

The lizard is likely to be sluggish after several weeks living out in the open in cool temperatures.