Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area


Nile Monitor

(Varanus niloticus)


Sub-Saharan Africa

Introduction to Florida:

Escaped or released pets

Stage on Invasion Curve:



The Nile monitor is a large lizard that can grow to more than 5 feet long. Its body is gray-brown and marked with bands of lighter-colored spots with speckles between them. On the tail, these bands of spots appear as solid bands. The head is marked with light-colored, V-shaped marks. Nile monitors have muscular bodies and long, muscular tails that taper on top in the shape of a rudder to assist in swimming.

Other species of monitor lizard, such as the common water monitor (Varanus salvator) and savannah monitor (Varanus exanthematicus) have also been found in South Florida but with no evidence of breeding.


Monitor lizards are predators that eat mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and eggs. They are a threat to Florida’s native wildlife, including some endangered and threatened species like burrowing owls, sea turtles, and crocodiles. In residential areas, they are also a danger to people’s pets.

Where to Find Them

There are breeding populations of Nile monitors in Lee, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties. Individuals have also been observed throughout the state, including multiple observations in Broward County. Nile monitors are strong swimmers and are often found near water, especially in urban and suburban areas. They are active during the day and burrow or hide at nighttime.

Distribution Maps

What You Can Do

  • If you see a monitor lizard, please take a picture, note the location, and report your sighting:
    • By phone: 1-888-IVE-GOT1
    • Online: IveGot1.org
    • Or download the IveGot1 reporting app
  • Nile monitors are no longer allowed to be kept as pets in Florida. Do your research before buying an exotic pet, and remember, Don’t Let It Loose!
  • Surrender unwanted exotic pets at one of FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Day events or call the Pet Amnesty hotline at 1-888-IVE-GOT1

More Information