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Arizona: Sightings Of Giant Monitor Lizard

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 29th, 2010

It all started like we’ve see it happen hundreds of times. An irrigation district worker in Eloy, Arizona, told a farmer he saw an alligator or a dragon or something in the water.

Everyone said “What’s wrong with you, Dave?” and they laughed at him, reported local KOLD News 13.

Then more and more accounts began coming in.

Officials with Arizona’s Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS) decided to take the reports of a 5-foot to 6-foot lizard living in the desert seriously, and go take a look. Quickly the group from tail drag marks and fresh digs. The accounts turned out to be true. The sightings led to a surprising discovery.


In this 2008 file photo, Daniel Marchand of the Phoenix Herpetological Society drapes a rescued Asian water monitor over his shoulder.

Members of the PHS said they searched the desert in Eloy following accounts of a large lizard and found a 5 ft, 4 in reptile within a few minutes, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported earlier this week on May 26th.

The animal was positively identified as an Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator). The lizard appeared to have been living in the desert for several months. They grow up to 6 feet long, and can live 25 years.

“He’s a little thin. His tail area should be fatter,” PHS’ reptile handler Dan Marchand said, who speculated it was a released or escaped pet.

The lizard was taken to the Phoenix Herpetological Society’s sanctuary to recover.


Second largest lizard in the world (only to the Komodo Dragon) is the Asian water monitor. This one found in 2005, is examined by Debbie Gibson, PHS vice president, and her colleague Dan Marchand, curator.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


5 Responses to “Arizona: Sightings Of Giant Monitor Lizard”

  1. SIRUPAPERS responds:

    Wait a minute, you mean this wasn’t a bunch of otters swimming in formation? And the eyewitness testimony wasn’t horribly wrong? Plus you find things when you take eyewitness reports seriously and then go looking? My head is spinning at such strange concepts!

  2. mystery_man responds:

    Monitor lizards are actually very common as pets so if this was an escapee, it would not surprise me at all.

    What I do find interesting is that it survived so well for an extended amount of time in this desert environment. While there are species of monitor lizards that live in arid climates, Asian water monitors are pretty specifically adapted to tropical watery habitats. These are hardy animals, but a monitor of this particular species going for several months in the desert is interesting to me.

  3. MrInspector responds:

    You might be surprised what you can find, if you just go out and look.

  4. Cryptidcrazy responds:

    I could have sworn an Alligator Monitor was the 2nd largest lizard in the world. Aren’t they larger than the Asian Water Monitor?

  5. Hollyitis responds:

    I lived in Bisbee Arizona in 1983. ON Thanksgiving Day that year, I was walking alone and seen a lizard that was HUGE! Its head looked identical to the one in the picture. It was looking at me from the tall weeds at the base of the mountain. Nobody believed me when I got back home and told them I had seen a huge lizard.



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