DOVER, Delaware (AP) -- Several
flesh-eating pet lizards were found
feasting on the corpse of their owner in
his apartment, police said.
Police were called to Ronald Huff's
apartment in Newark, Delaware, on
Wednesday after a relative became worried
because Huff failed to show up for work,
Officers found Huff's body on the floor,
with his pet Nile monitor lizards feeding on
his flesh. The state medical examiner is
investigating the cause of death.
Huff, 42, had last been seen Sunday, New
Castle County police said.
Workers with the Delaware Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recovered
seven lizards, the largest measuring 6 feet
long and weighing 25 pounds.
"They're alive and well," said SPCA director
John Caldwell. He added that one of the
reptiles recovered was acting aggressively,
"actually going toward you, mouth open."
Caldwell said the lizards have small but very sharp teeth and muscular, whip-like
tails that can seriously injure a person. In the wild, they eat eggs, birds and other
animals, he said.
"In captivity, we feed them raw chicken and liver. You can also feed them
hard-boiled eggs," he said. < /p>
The SPCA will try to place the lizards with zoos or educational groups, Caldwell
said. Barring that, they will be euthanized.
The lizards are considered exotic pets in Delaware and cannot be acquired without
a permit from the state Department of Agriculture.
State veterinarian Dr. H.W. Towers said the department stopped issuing such
permits for New Castle County residents in 1997 after the county passed an
ordinance to stop the proliferation of exotic pets.
Caldwell said he was told that Huff was granted an exotic pet permit several years
ago. Towers said he didn't know, however, if Huff had permits for all the lizards.
"If somebody had come for seven monitor lizards, somebody would have said
something to me," Towers said.