Large lizard seen crawling along Phoenix freeway during rush hour

Jul 10, 2024, 8:07 AM | Updated: Jul 12, 2024, 9:14 am

PHOENIX – Leapin’ lizards! A large reptile was seen crawling along a north Phoenix freeway during rush hour Wednesday morning.

ABC15 posted Arizona Department of Transportation traffic camera footage of a monitor lizard on the eastbound Loop 101 Pima Freeway near Seventh Street.

At one point, the creature disappeared through a storm drain grate on the side of the roadway.

The Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary worked with the Arizona Department of Public Safety to retrieve the animal about an hour after it went down the drain.

How did animal rescuers retrieve lizard on Phoenix freeway?

After the grate was removed, the reptile rescue crew used catch poles to guide the lizard near the opening and hold it steady.

“At that time I just took the opportunity to grab it by the tail, which is not normally the best place to be getting an animal,” Casey Brose, animal husbandry and volunteer administrator for the Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Brose and a partner then safely put the lizard in a bin.

“No one got hurt. No one got scratched or bit. That is what we aim to do, and the animal didn’t seem to have received any trauma from that incident,” Brose said. “We bagged it, put in the container, and that was it.”

Monitor lizards aren’t native to the United States, but they can be kept as pets. The reptiles, which can grow to be several feet long, are considered an invasive species in parts of Florida.

“This was a Nile monitor lizard, and they are quite prevalent in the pet trade,” Brose said. “So, this is definitely somebody’s pet. It is not a native species that roams our desert.”

The rescuers took the reptile to the sanctuary in north Scottsdale and are trying to find its owner. They already have received multiple calls about it.

“So, it sounds like there’s actually a couple of monitor lizards that might be escaped,” Brose said.

According to ABC15, the freeway lizard, whose name is Archibald or Archie, was reunited with his owner later Wednesday morning.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Patricia Valencia contributed to this report.

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Large lizard seen crawling along Phoenix freeway during rush hour