The Everglades Goliath Gecko (Eublepharis gigas) is one of the biggest lizards you will ever see.
These suckers were once all over the Everglades, but were hunted nearly to extinction in the '50s and '60s by land developers who considered them annoying pests, and as of writing this article, are still considered an endangered species. In fact, while they can be dangerous if provoked, Goliaths are usually harmless, unless you're a small mammal, bird, or turtle. However, they've been known to climb down from trees to chase after squirrels or cats, and even go after small children on occasion. In such an event, goliath geckos be scared away by a swift kick to their massive, fat-storing tails).
Everglades Goliath Geckos are the largest extant members of the gecko family, growing up to four feet long on average and weighing up to a hundred and fifteen pounds. Males are usually a little heavier than females, and babies are, right after hatching, about six inches long. Goliath Gecko eggs are about the size of a grapefruit, white, and leathery. Females lay clutches of up to eight eggs at a time in nests made from leaves, twigs, mud, and rotten vegetation. They do not care for their young past laying eggs, and both sexes lead exclusively solitary lives save for mating season. In the wild, their natural predators are alligators, Florida panthers, and skunk apes.
Currently, it's a Class B felony to hold these guys as pets, but that doesn't stop
many people in Miami-Dade County from raising these lovable giant
lizards (which are actually quite intelligent and
friendly, when given the
proper training) as pets.
Since being put on the endangered species list, their numbers have grown somewhat, due to captive breeding programs in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but they are being outcompeted by invasive exotic species such as the Nile monitor lizard, and ocelots--both species were introduced into the Everglades when a train (carrying animals intended for a Miami shoot of a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan film) crashed in 1934, letting thousands of them escape. In addition, chemical pollution and the ongoing destruction of the Everglades by land developers has left these noble creatures with less and less space to live in each year. Legistlation to protect the Everglades is currently before the State Congress, but it may not pass in time to save their natural habitats. The best projections say that the Everglades Goliath Gecko will be off the endangered species list by 2020, but many are saying it will go extinct in the wild by 2015.
I implore my fellow noders to donate to the World Wildlife Fund to help save these creatures.