The monitor lizard is the largest in the species and is quite a common sight in Thailand particularly in urban areas and near water sources such as rivers, ponds and canals. However, they are generally not well-liked although the reception for the reptile who went shopping last Tuesday at a Thai convenience store was far from unfriendly.

A monitor lizard became a worldwide internet sensation on Wednesday after footage of its Tuesday afternoon visit to a convenience store in the Thai city of Nakhon Pathom went viral. The creature appeared to be searching for iced cool refreshments when encountered by startled shoppers.

Dramatic scenes from Tuesday were captured by shocked Thai shopper Narimpa Tangsin who along with other customers made the scene from a Nakhon Pathom convenience store go viral online where it was picked up by international news media. The shopping lizard climbed the shelves of the shop to perch near the ice vending machine when he could not open the doors of the refrigerated drinks cabinets.

In the last 24 hours, a quick visit by a reptile to one of over 12 thousand 7/11 stores in Thailand has gone viral not only in the kingdom but worldwide after a shocked customer at the store, Narimpa Tangsin, had the presence of mind to record what she saw right in front of her at the local convenience store in the centre of Nakhon Pathom near Bangkok in Thailand.

It was a giant monitor lizard who first appeared to want to access the refrigerated drinks cabinet at the back of the store but then decided to climb to the top of the shelves. 

The lizard tried at first to slide one of the cabinet doors open but unfortunately for him, it opened out (please see video below).

Locals say he came from the canal in the city.

Shopper recorded the scene on her mobile phone but did not get too close to the ‘dangerous animal’

The incident drew the attention of amused onlookers although Ms Narimpa was careful about getting too close.

‘I wanted to buy a drink but the animal was too close to the drinks aisle,’ she said on Wednesday afternoon. ‘They’re dangerous animals, especially when they’re angry, so I stayed back and recorded it on my phone.’

A shop assistant at the store called the local police who reached out to find lizard handlers as the monitor lizard is a protected species in Thailand. 

April is one of Thailand’s hottest months and the lizard appeared to be looking for cool refreshment

Later, a team arrived at the store from the outskirts of Bangkok and captured the lizard. They brought him outside and let him run off into the undergrowth.

He did not bring anything with him from the store although many suggest that his interest in the refrigerated drinks cabinet and the fact the ice vending machine was just below his perch on the top shelf may have given some clue to what he had in mind.

April is one of Thailand’s hottest months, even for lizards.

Largest lizard species in the world is habitual to Thailand where many homes have been invaded

The monitor lizard, the largest of the species, is well known in Thailand and quite common in urban areas and precincts near rivers, canals and parks which have water.

It is not uncommon for a Thai person to have experienced a monitor lizard house invasion.

The species is, for the most part, not liked by Thais who associate it with ill luck or see it as an evil omen.

The reason for this is that it is a carnivore that eats small animals as well as insects and carrion. 

It is also often found in Thailand near cemeteries and will eat dead flesh from any creature.

Can be dangerous if confronted with a nasty bite

The lizard can be quite dangerous if confronted or certainly if cornered, having a powerful tail as well as sharp claws and teeth. When aggravated, it makes a fierce hissing noise.

Many in Thailand also confuse giant lizards with crocodiles which are more dangerous to human beings.

There is also some debate in Thailand as to whether its bites are venomous but they are certainly dangerous as the animal’s teeth and mouth are full of harmful bacteria meaning that a wound inflicted by it will become infected and putrefy quite quickly in Thailand’s hot weather.

The monitor lizard is associated with evil or unrestful spirits as they are often found near cemeteries

Thai people also associate the reptile with dead bodies and spirits.

The proper Thai name for a monitor lizard, if used as a slur against a local person, will quite often result in an angry and quite dangerous reaction or outburst.

The reverse of this thought process is that a wandering monitor lizard in a home invasion can be a sign of good luck or pending good fortune for those who are optimistically inclined. 

Some Thai people throw coins at invading lizards

The reason for this is unclear but there is a custom of throwing coins at the creature firstly to encourage it to leave but also as an inducement to it to reciprocate and deliver on a promise of good luck which in Thailand, invariably, means financial gain.

For those who believe the creature is an ill omen, the key thing to do is to keep your doors and windows locked before being confronted by the forked tongue reptile.

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Further reading:

Family to visit Buddhist shrine as little Thai girl miraculously escapes playing with a cobra snake

Snake home invasions double in Thailand within the last 4 years with injuries and deaths reported

Watch out for deadly snakes in Thailand – they’re not your friend

Thai police captain helps woman lose spirit that was damaging her health in call out video that went viral

Mr Goldshell – the Thai hero turtle brings joy and hope to a small Thai village while another village calls police over ghost

Thai girl dies after taking part in ‘black curse’ ritual in tragic unexplained death – five charged