Indiana Man Finds a Cute Critter That is Thousands of Miles From Home
Indiana is home to countless species of weird and wonderful critters. You never know what you might find under the next rock, log, leaf, or backyard deck - and this story is a perfect example of that. An Indiana man recently discovered something that was not only NOT supposed to be in the Hoosier state but was/is thousands of miles from its home.
Eric Hacker shared pictures on the Indiana Nature Lovers Facebook page of a beautiful reptile he found cooling off in the shade under a deck in Salem, Indiana. Come to find out, the cute critter is a Savannah Monitor. The lizard is not a native to Savannah, Georgia, which wouldn't seem too strange - it is, however, a native to Africa where it lives in savannah or grassland areas. Here's a pretty good overall description from BiologyDictionary.net...
The savannah monitor (Varanus exanthematicus) is a medium-sized reptile found throughout most of Africa, south of the Sahara desert. These lizards are incredibly robust. They have powerful limbs that are used for digging burrows. They also have powerful jaws and blunt peg-like teeth that help them crush their prey.
Savannah Monitors in Indiana
Clearly, this fella didn't leave Africa and travel over 8,000 miles to America in order to find a better life in Indiana. Savannah monitors end up here because they have become popular pets. That's all well and good, I mean, who am I to judge someone who wants to have an exotic pet? The problem is, sometimes these pets get loose, or maybe even get discarded for one reason or another. It's not the worse thing in the world to have an African lizard roaming around Indiana backyards during the warm summer months, but it's a different story when temperatures start to cool down in the Fall and Winter. Savannah monitors are just not equipped for Midwestern weather
What If You Find a Savannah Monitor in Indiana?
If you discover a critter that you are unsure about, the first step should probably be to figure out what it is. You can do like Eric, and share the information online - there are numerous Facebook groups that help identify animals. If it is, in fact, an invasive species, I would recommend you report it to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR).