6-foot pet Asian water lizard escapes into Florida neighborhood

NAPLES, Fla. — There is a lizard on the loose.

Poseidon, a 5-year-old Asian water lizard, escaped his Golden Gate Estates home more than a week ago, and his owner is asking for residents' help to find his beloved pet.

The 6-foot, 50-pound reptile escaped from his 20-by-20-foot outdoor enclosure off Wilson Boulevard on Oct. 14, said Kevin Hennings, who owns the pet lizard.         

Poseidon was not in his enclosure during Hurricane Irma, but the storm roughed up his cage when a tree uprooted and fell on it, said Hennings, 20. 

Hennings repaired the cage, but somehow Poseidon must have squeezed his way through the floor and door panels, he said. 

"He was able to escape with no breaks or openings," Hennings said. "He would've had to find some crevice." 

Hennings said he immediately called the Collier County Sheriff's Office's non-emergency line. He also alerted a local reptile breeding facility in case someone turned in Poseidon.         

After contacting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, officials visited him Wednesday to take a report, Hennings said.         

"They're on my side," he said. "They're all on the lookout."

But after almost two weeks on the loose, the lizard still is missing, Hennings said Thursday afternoon. The last and only confirmed sighting, he said, was when a resident took a picture of Poseidon after spotting him Monday at TwinEagles Golf and Country Club in Golden Gate Estates.         

Hennings' posts on social media have garnered considerable attention from residents and news media. Some people have criticized him online, he said, but many have offered to help him find his pet.

"It's heartwarming," Hennings said. "It's cool how the community has come together."

Unlike Nile monitors, water lizards are not considered an invasive species and don't require a permit for owners, Hennings said, because they have not established a breeding population.         

"He's not a nuisance either," he said.

Hennings doesn't want residents to try to catch Poseidon, but he said his reptile does not pose a threat to others or their pets.         

"He's very tame and docile," Hennings said. "He's never tried to bite. He's never even opened his mouth in an aggressive way."

Hennings asked that anyone who sees Poseidon call him or local authorities, instead of trying to catch him.

"He does look a little scary," Hennings said, adding that the reptile likely would walk away if confronted.

With temperatures dipping, Hennings said he hopes the reptile will come out into the open to bask in the sun. 

"It's only a matter of time," he said. "Now at this point it's just a waiting game."

Hennings is optimistic his pet will turn up, but he said he has been "absolutely miserable" since the lizard escaped.

"Him and I did have a bond," he said. "It's pretty nerve-wracking. His safety is my main concern."

Hennings said he has had Poseidon for about three years. 

"I've always had an interest in exotic reptiles, exotic animals, period," he said.

He has worked with alligators and pythons before and put on educational shows with Poseidon for children, Hennings said.

"He's something that I cherish," he said. "He's like a family member."

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