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DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Florida authorities have caught a huge lizard that has terrified residents of a suburban Miami neighborhood for months.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Thursday the Asian water monitor lizard measures more than 8 feet (2.5 meters) long.

The lizard is an escaped pet. It was first reported loose in August in a Davie neighborhood. Residents said it lurked in their backyards and scratched at their patio doors.

Wildlife officers and Davie police officers caught it Tuesday after getting a tip from a resident who said the lizard frequently appeared on his property around midday.

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A wildlife commission statement says the lizard will be returned to its owner, who received a criminal citation for its escape.

Owners must have cages to keep these lizards as pets. It's illegal to release nonnative species in Florida.

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