What’s loose in the store and smashing goods to the floor?
Staff and customers at a 7-Eleven in the Thai city of Nakhon Pathom, near Bangkok, were stunned this week by the intrusion of a giant Asian water monitor, which barged through the store and scaled shelves next to the beverage cooler, drink cartons cascading down in its wake.
Shrieking bystanders recorded some of the action.
Once. Twice. Thrice it almost crashed to the floor. But the lizard was muscular. It appeared determined. It could not be deterred by nine shelves of snacks, footage reveals.
Tongue protruding, it remained on course toward its apparent goal: the ice dispenser.
According to bystanders, the reptile, around six feet in length, remained atop the shelves for at least an hour.
Experts say monitor lizards can grow to be some 9 feet long, with males generally growing larger than females.
A member of staff said that while the animal was guided out of the shop, rescuers did not catch it. “It just ran away into the bushes,” the employee told a British tabloid. “I’ve never seen a monitor lizard that big in my life.”
Narumpa Tangsin, who was shopping for food when the giant monitor began its own grocery run, said she kept her distance just in case it was having a bad day.
“They’re dangerous animals, especially when they’re angry,” she said, according to media accounts. “I stayed back and recorded it on my phone. I guess that shops have everything, even for lizards.”
On social media, the enormous reptile was quickly nicknamed Godzilla, as users shared footage of it swinging from the shelves. Many of those less versed in the science of lizard identification assumed the images came from Florida, while others expressed concern for the welfare of the animal - which staff said probably emerged from a forest nearby.
Monitor lizards generally reside in swamps and woodlands, and are excellent swimmers, although they are known to wander into urban areas, too. They are not usually aggressive unless provoked.
“They are formidable animals with a powerful tail, sharp claws and teeth,” said Rob Ward, of Britain’s Amphibian and Reptile Conservation team, adding that they have the ability to inflict serious injury when threatened. “When it comes to interacting with humans, defensive behaviors including tail whipping, inflating themselves and hissing are most likely if threatened,” he said.
While it remains unclear how exactly the creature ended up in the store, locals say it may have been trying to escape humid weather, and Ward pointed to the lizard’s powerful sense of smell, noting that the carnivore may have been drawn to the scent of food.
According to Ward, monitors are most active during the day, which may explain why Thailand’s 7-Eleven lizard popped up around lunch time.