An unlikely critter was discovered taking a walk near Patapsco Valley State Park on Wednesday.
A resident of the enclave of Pumphrey, located between Brooklyn Park and Limthicum Heights, called authorities that day after spotting a footlong lizard on Midland Avenue. Maryland Natural Resources Police sent an officer out to investigate.
What he found was a reptile alien to Maryland: a lizard later identified as an Australian monitor, a carnivorous creature that comes in a range of sizes. While the Dampier Peninsula monitor and the Komodo dragon, both of which can grow to more than six feet long, fall under the same family, this creature is just a distant cousin. Still, at a foot in length, it’d certainly catch the eye of most Baltimore-area pedestrians.
According to a Facebook post, the officer wrangled the animal into an orange oyster basket and called Anne Arundel County animal control, which sent its own officer to scoop up the lizard.
Authorities think the animal’s owner left it there after deciding he didn’t want it around anymore.
An Anne Arundel County Animal Control employee said over the phone that the lizard is now under a “stray hold” and is being cared for. It was found dehydrated, missing two of its nails on one of its back feet and missing two toes on one of its front feet.
The department has nicknamed the lizard “Drack.” It’ll be available for adoption once it’s nursed back to good health, the employee said. Anyone interested in adopting it can call 410-222-8900.
The road where the Australian monitor was found backs up to the Patapsco Valley State Park, which is split between Baltimore and Howard counties. Even if it made it into the woods, the lizard likely would have stuck out like a sore thumb. A community-run website listing common species in the park only shows copperheads and gartersnakes as native reptiles in that area. The Patch reported some unlikely finds of salamanders in 2013 as well, but no reports turned up for footlong Australian reptiles.