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Arizona reptile wranglers capture lizard wandering freeway

PHOENIX (CBS, KYMA/KECY) - Reptile wranglers were able to capture a lizard that had wandered onto a busy Phoenix highway Wednesday morning, according to KPHO.

KPHO says Alex Roszkowski and Casey Brose, from Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary, found the Nile monitor lizard hiding in a storm drain on the shoulder of Arizona State Route 101.

"We rescue reptiles every single day. But one on the 101, a Nile monitor walking down the 101. That's the first one. The first one for me too.

Yeah, we were battling with time a little bit too because we were both starting to get a little hot and he was getting worn out the lizard. Um, so we were trying to make sure that we could get him before he, uh, cooked in that little, um, culvert.

Yeah, absolutely. And that's our biggest thing is for the safety of that animal. You know, it looked a little intense and it was, but for the safety of that animal and us it was basically get him out, get him in the box and we need to get him out of here and cool down in the vehicle.

But also the drivers on the 101. Because if that monitor lizard was to bolt out into traffic, who knows what could have happened?

I got called by my manager at Debbie at 630 a.m. I was just waking up and she's like, yeah, there's a monitor on the, on the 101. Is there any way that you can go help them out? I'm like, I, I guess so, jumped out of bed and I got ready as well as I could and drove down there. We got to the scene, you know, the officer kind of took us over to where there's a storm grate. We weren't sure if the storm grate could even be removed. And then kind of, there was this small kind of grate that you could see all the way down the culvert and we tracked the monitor all the way to the dead end there. And then Casey started kind of poking him from the back to get him closer and closer to the edge of the culvert where we could kind of see him in the storm drain wouldn't come all the way out because he was starting to get more and more suspicious of us. But then we kind of were able to put one of the catch poles down in there and kind of get his arm through so that he couldn't slip out the first time. We got a hold of him. He actually backed out and their heads are so narrow that he was able to kind of just slip out of that catch pole. So I had to get his front arm through. Casey was able to kind of shove him down as he kind of wore out, he got his arm through and then we cinched it up around his waist and his upper arm. And then as you saw Casey was the Wrangler.

Literally at that point, it's you got to go kit or get bit is what we say at the sanctuary. I grabbed that animal by the tail at the most un bitty end. And then it was essentially getting him from not biting me. Thankfully, Alex was able to pin him very firmly. I know it looked a little intense, but that animal is fine. They can handle these things, pinned him. I grabbed him by the back of the neck. We put him in the box done and done. We've done our job. So we got him out of there. Yes, we got him out of there. Yes.

So at the sanctuary, we actually have Nile monitors. So I have thorough training on these animals and they're actually one of the few lizards that will actively pursue you. Now, it's just out of defense. This animal is not trying to hurt me. I got it by the tail and it's gonna swing around. So it was essentially just keep its gravity from coming up and grabbing me. So, Alex, thankfully being a professional wrangler alert for these animals, we were able to just kind of knock it down and then he saw his chance boom, nailed it. So, I mean, we work with 12 ft crocodiles so."

Alex Roszkowski and Casey Brose, Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary

After freeing it, the lizard appeared to lunge multiple times before finally being secured inside a container, KPHO says.

The sanctuary is now searching for the reptile's owner, according to KPHO.

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