Meet Rex - the 18kg monitor lizard who lives with UK family-of-four and even goes out for walks

Meet Rex - the 40lb, six feet long monitor lizard that lives at home with a family-of-four...who even take him 'walkies' on a lead.

Matt Reid, 38, said aptly named T-Rex, is more like a puppy than a reptile and he loves nothing more than going for strolls with kids Leighton and Kailah, 11 and seven.

Life as a pet monitor isn't always plain-sailing, because despite being six-feet long, Rex loves small spaces and even once got lost inside the sofa.

He loves sunbathing outside their home in in Andover, Hampshire, and is a fan of his weekly baths.

Matt said: "I look at Rex as a one in a million lizard.

"Rex has such a kind and docile personality, he loves his food, he loves basking in the sun and he loves his baths.

"He has a bath every week and when he's had enough he climbs out and brings himself downstairs.

"He is, I suppose, quite intimidating to some people but to me he's a puppy dog.

"When I get home from work he comes out and has full roam of the garden and house as he's too big to be locked away.

"If the weather is nice at the weekend I take him out for a walk on his lead for as far as he wants, there's no walking Rex he goes where he wants!

"Rex gets big reactions when out and about, people either shocked, scared or interested.

"People always stop to ask questions and take pictures, there's never a dull moment when I take him out.

"I've got to own my dream pet, to learn his ways and educate other people as well on these animals as they can be poorly portrayed.

"He's so rare and it's like owning a mini modern day dinosaur!"

The paint sprayer had kept reptiles for 20 years but stopped when his wife Cordelia, 36, had their daughter as he no longer had the time.

But when the pandemic hit last year, Matt used his time in lockdown to build enclosures in the garden for future scaly pets - and adopted Rex.

"As soon as I saw Rex up for sale I didn't hesitate as it has always been my dream to have a dog-size tame lizard around the house," he said.

It was an eight-hour round trip to Doncaster to pick up the five-year-old lizard who now lives a pampered life alongside their other exotic pets; two tarantulas, two chinchillas and a three-and-a-half foot tegu called Littlefoot.

Matt said: "My tegu is like a brother with Rex. They follow each other everywhere, the sunbath together, hang around together.

"I'm always on hand though in case anything happened but they have formed a really good bond."

Matt spends nearly £15 a week on the black throat monitor lizard, his diet consisting of rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and chicks all kept in a purpose built freezer.

"I bought a freezer to go in the shed for all the animals as the wife didn't want them in the freezer in the house," said Matt.

Rex has his own 3 x 3m heated enclosure lit with UVB lighting in the garden during the day, but comes to sleep inside under the stairs at night.

The scaly behemoth measures 28 inches around his body and seven inches round his forearms - the same as Matt's wrists.

The enormous reptile is even toilet-trained and refuses to do his business in his enclosure or by his bed.

Matt said: "When Rex wants to go in the garden to do his business he goes to the back door and scratches on it to be let out, he usually does his business in the same area of the garden.

"I haven't trained him to do much but he's very intelligent and knows where his bed is and takes himself to bed when tired and had enough."

Rex's species originates in Tanzania but can be kept as a pet in the UK by experienced reptile handlers.

They can live up to 30 years and can reach 30kg in weight and seven feet long in adulthood.

Matt said: "One time we had a small gap in our kitchen plinth only about 10cm wide, I didn't think anything of it but Rex squeezed through and ended up under the kitchen cupboards.

"I had to remove the plinth and pull him back out!"

Their strong bite releases a venom that can prevent blood clotting in humans and would require hospitalisation.

Dad-of-two Matt said: "Rex is as docile as a pet can come however he is a six foot, 40lb monitor lizard with one-inch claws and razor sharp teeth so I am always aware of this, especially when he's around people he doesn't know.

"I watch him and read any signs of him feeling threatened, stressed or aggressiveness, he has never shown any.

"His first sign of attack will be puffing up and hissing then he will whip you with his tail, biting you is his last thing."