Correction: The original version of this article referred to Michael as a snake in the 2nd paragraph. He’s actually a lizard, not a snake. This error was made by GazeboNews, which doesn’t know much about snakes and lizards and water monitors. The error was not made by Rob Carmichael, who does know a lot about all three!
By Adrienne Fawcett
A large water monitor that was owned by actor Nicholas Cage has taken up residence at the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest. The lizard, which goes by the name “Michael,” arrived last week and has already made himself right at home.
Wildlife Discovery Center Curator Rob Carmichael explained that the lizard found its way to Lake Forest “through a mutual friend of Nick’s and mine in Las Vegas who is in the zoo industry. Nicholas is going to be doing a lot of traveling preparing for a new film and realized he just couldn’t stay on top of taking care of his reptile collection. We were contacted last week and a couple of days later, Michael arrived via Fed Ex in a big shipping box.”
The Wildlife Discovery staff gave Michael a good soak and shower, let him romp around the main exhibit hall to stretch out after being cooped up in the box for a day, and then they put him into his new enclosure, which he loves exploring.
Michael’s new life is sweet.
“The following day he dined on quail, mice and rats; yummy to a big predatory lizard,” said Carmichael. “He has a few ‘dings’ and needs to be fattened up a bit but, overall, he’s in pretty good shape. The Asian Water Monitor we got was obviously dearly loved as it is VERY friendly and easy going and this animal is now on exhibit in our Main Exhibit Hall. He’ll also be used in our educational programs and birthday parties as well.”
The water monitor is five years old and approximately 5 feet long ((2/3’s of which is tail), and he could potentially reach 6-8 feet. Carmichael said this species can live for 20 to 30 years.
In the summer, the Wildlife Discovery Center plans to let Michael hang out in an outdoor enclosure complete with swimming pool, so he can get some sun, fresh air and space to romp around.