WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO BELOW
Durban snake catcher Nick Evans was left heartbroken after the heavily pregnant monitor lizard that was mauled by a family dog died.
“A heart-breaking rescue from last week, but one that I found interesting,” Evans said.
He said he had received a call from Dawncliffe, in Westville, about a Nile monitor lizard in a bush by someone's pool.
The property was next to a ravine, so he told the family that the lizard would move off by itself but they should keep the dogs away.
Evans said that a while later, the lizard had not moved off, so he phoned his friend and namesake, Nick Saunders, to catch it because he was on a call elsewhere.
“Nick reached to grab it, expecting a big fight, which these lizards usually put up. Instead, there was nothing. It was alive, but as he soon noticed, it had been mauled by the resident's dog. This happened before the resident was even aware of the lizard,” Evans explained.
“When I picked it up later, I was surprised at how bloated it was. We both thought it had to be gravid (pregnant).”
“I have never had a monitor lizard survive a dog attack, so I was not hopeful. I took it to uShaka Sea World, for the veterinary and Dangerous Creatures team of Saambr (South African Association for Marine Biological Research), to check it out,” continued Evans.
He said that based on the X-ray of the lizard, many of the its ribs were broken and upon further inspection they realised the lizard was a mother-to-be.
“We were all so desperate for her to survive. Or at least lay her eggs before passing. But she didn't. We watched her take her last breaths,” Evans said.
“Completely ruined the week.”
“A post-mortem was done, and look! Look how absolutely full of eggs she was! There were 39 eggs. While many of those babies would have been eaten by predators, some would have survived to help sustain the population,” continued Evans.
“Again, just absolutely devastating.”
Evans said a lot of data was gathered from the case, which was some consolation.
“I can't believe how full her body was, of eggs,” Evans said.
“The eggs weren't fully developed and could not be saved.”
Evans said that the lizards were a protected species and were being killed in and around Durban. They were killed by dogs, cars and people who wanted to use them for food or traditional medicine.
“It is illegal to kill this animal,” Evans said.
“Please also keep your dogs away from them, should you see one before your dogs. I've never seen a dog injured by one, but I've seen many killed by dogs,” asked Evans.
“We need to try and protect those monitors that still remain.”
“I am grateful to all involved in trying to save this animal.”