Orem has a new, albeit reluctant, superhero.
Animal control officer Albert Loris, a.k.a. Iguana Man, spent more time during the past week chasing wayward reptiles than rounding up stray kitties and puppies.He's never seen anything like it during his nearly 20 years on critter patrol.
"I hope this is the end of it," he said.
Three monitor lizards escaped from a backyard pen early last week, causing panic in a central Orem neighborhood - panic that was heightened by a TV news report that included scenes from the movie "Godzilla." Some feared the 3- to 5-foot-long meat-eating lizards might be looking for a dachshund or a tabby to devour.
Residents can rest easy now that aptly named Goliath, Titan and Gargantua are no longer on the lam.
The trio didn't venture far from home.
The owner found one under his own storage shed. Another was located in a neighbor's woodpile. Loris nabbed the third Wednesday creeping through a garden a few houses down.
"They weren't out looking for trouble," he said. "They were just hiding out."
While officers were on the lookout for the trio, they came across three iguanas, making a total of six reptiles in seven days.
Loris caught a 4-foot-long iguana last week after it wandered into a State Street glass shop. Some children called animal control after finding one Monday. They planned to take it to the Brigham Young University zoology department, Loris said.
And Loris grabbed another one Wednesday and transported it to the animal shelter.
"It's not one of the normal things we keep here," he said.
No one can explain the week-long lizard run.
Loris figures some of them came from an Orem pet store that did a brisk reptile business a couple of years ago. Those iguanas are big now, and people aren't sure what to do with them, he said. Taking the speedy creatures outside without a leash also makes it easy for them to flee or climb a tree.
Sun-drenched days might also have something to with it as the reptiles feed their need to bask.
Maybe as humans are trying to escape the summer heat in air conditioned houses, reptiles are trying to escape air conditioned houses for the summer heat.
"You don't hear them moving," Loris said. "They could run right out of the house behind you and you wouldn't know they were gone."
And if that happens, there's only one person to call: Iguana Man.