A rare crocodile monitor lizard was found in the backyard of a Southern California home Wednesday, thousands of miles away from its native land, and animal authorities believe that it is a pet gone astray, several reports said Thursday.

The 4-foot-long crocodile monitor was first spotted by Craig Williams when he saw the reptile soaking up the sun on top of a hedge in his backyard.

The big lizard is now being held by Riverside County’s animal services division. Williams’ dogs were the first ones to notice the lounging lizard on Wednesday afternoon.

"The dogs were upset. So we got them into the house right away," Williams said. "Because that type of lizard could do a lot of damage to them and they could do a lot of damage to it."

Williams told CBS Los Angeles that it was not clear when the reptile showed up in their backyard, however, he thinks it was several days ago.

"We had heard it earlier – about 2 o’clock in the morning, attacking a bird in a tree. We came out expecting to find a pile of feathers but didn’t find anything."

After Riverside County Animal Control picked it up from Williams’ house, it didn’t take long for their animal experts to figure out where the big lizard was from.

"Natively they come from New Guinea where they live in the trees in the tropical rainforest," Reptile Expert Kim McWhorter said.

"Crocodile monitors are not usually kept as pets by private individuals," McWhorter said. "They need specialized care, mostly due to the large size they can reach. An owner would need a custom-built, room-sized enclosure. We hope the owner realizes we have their pet now. People are accustomed to coming to the shelter if they lose a dog or cat, but don’t necessarily think of us when they lose a lizard," according to the Press-Enterprise, a local news site from Riverside County, California.

The crocodile monitor is said to be a relative of the famous Komodo dragon and it is native to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. However, it is legal to own this reptile in the state of California.

The lizard is green and yellow with big claws, has a long tail and a forked tail, the New York Post reported.

The lizard is currently at the Western Riverside County or City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley, where it is being taken care of properly. The shelter officials will hold the exotic pet for some period of time to allow the rightful owner to claim his or her lizard.

"We have just a few neighbors. So we’ve been around to talk to the ones on the immediate sides of us. Nobody that we can find has lost a lizard," McWhorter said.

As it is legal to keep the crocodile monitor lizard in California, thus if the rightful owner comes forward and can prove that the reptile belongs to him or her, animal control said they would give it back.