As far as missing pets go, Oscar the lace monitor is not a run-of-the-mill case.
- Shane Coleman has raised Oscar the lace monitor from a hatchling to an almost full-sized adult
- Oscar escaped from his cage sometime on Friday, sparking a search across the southern suburbs of Cairns
- Mr Coleman says Oscar poses little threat to more conventional suburban pets like cats and dogs
Far north Queensland man Shane Coleman has spent the last four days and most of the nights between them searching for his beloved “small dinosaur”.
“He’s about as big as they get, he’s nearly a full-grown adult male,” Mr Coleman said.
“He’s nearly 1.8 metres long head-to-tail, so he really is a small dinosaur.
“I’ve had him for about 15 years, from a hatchling.
“He’s spent a lot of time with me — he used to go to TAFE with me in my schoolbag.”
Mr Coleman said he had recently moved to Cairns and that Oscar’s cage was “in a limbo stage of being fully put together” when he escaped sometime on Friday.
“He’s pushed out of the wire and gone walkabout,” he said.
“They can walk up to five kilometres a day [and] it’s hard to say what he’d actually do, but I don’t think he’d walk that far.
In the wild lace monitors eat other reptiles, birds, and eggs, and are known to hunt mammals.
But Mr Coleman said Oscar was fed on a diet of dead chickens and rats bred specifically for feeding reptiles and posed little to no threat to more conventional suburban pets.
“He doesn’t have a live food diet — there’s been chickens in the yard and he’s been around cats and dogs and he doesn’t show any interest in them,” he said.
“He’s very well domesticated so I think the real risk is the other way around, with dogs or cats having a go at him if he wanders into their yard.
“He’s never really [hunted], he’s only ever been fed dead foods so I don’t know how he’s going to go in the wild and I don’t really want him out there.”
An agreeable companion
Mr Coleman said despite Oscar’s size and fearsome appearance he was quite an approachable reptile.
“He’s one of the most domesticated monitors I’ve come across,” he said.
“But it’s jut down to the time that I’ve spent with him.”
Mr Coleman asked anyone who thinks they’ve found Oscar to be cautious and to contact ABC Far North to get in touch with him.
“I wouldn’t attempt to handle him, even though I would say he’s friendly,” Mr Coleman said.