A 4 1/2-foot hissing lizard that blocked traffic, eluded searchers and touched off a series of hysterical phone calls to State Police was probably abandoned by a college student, authorities said.
The lizard was identified Monday by a professor of biology at nearby Cornell University as a monitor, a type of carnivorous lizard found in southern Africa and Southeast Asia."This one is big enough to eat a half a chicken," said Kraig Adler, a biology professor.
The lizard was first spotted Saturday on a rural road northeast of the hamlet of Brooktondale, apptly seeking the warmth of the roadway.
Curious motorists stopped along the road to look at the lizard, creating a minor traffic jam, said State Police Sgt. Robert Parlett.
"We got calls it was attacking people and we got one call that said it had entered a house and stolen a baby. As it turned out, it had grabbed a toy doll from a yard," Parlett said.
The creature was captured early Sunday by Gordon Gabaree, owner of Nuisance Wildlife Control of Ithaca. Preparations were being made to ship it to a zoo in Syracuse.
The monitor usually diets on rodents and small birds, Adler said.