Fear gripped a neighborhood in Tai Wai in Sha Tin on Wednesday after a student spotted what looked like a crocodile in the nearby Shing Mun River.
A police search yielded nothing, however. And video footages taken by residents in the area revealed that the “crocodile” was actually a lizard, Apple Daily reported.
Jerry, a secondary one student at the Shatin Government Secondary School, said he saw the dark brown, four-foot-long creature in the river as he was walking home.
“I thought it was a crocodile at first glance,” he said. “It was only when I saw the creature stick its tongue out that I realized it was a lizard.”
Although the boy knew it was a lizard, concerned neighbors sought the help of police to capture the creature.
Anthony Yeung, director of Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation who saw the video footages, said it was a varanus salvator or water monitor.
“They have sharp teeth and claws, and enjoy being in the water. However, they seldom attack people unprovoked,” Yeung said.
A monitor lizard can grow up to two meters in length, with its tail up to half of its full length.
The Tai Wai neighborhood’s concern was understandable.
In 2003, a four-foot crocodile was spotted in Shan Pui River in Yuen Long and expert crocodile hunters took months in their attempt to capture it.
The crocodile, which became a local celebrity and was named Pui Pui, was finally caught in 2004 and moved to the Hong Kong Wetland Park in 2006.
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