Family and friends have been left completely devastated after a man got eaten up by his own pet lizard inside his house
Ronald Huff, 42, cuddles one of his pet monitor lizards, which then ate him
A man eaten by his pet monitor lizards was also killed by the creatures because he succumbed to a blood infection caused by their bites, it is claimed.
Ronald Huff, 42, had his face, hands and stomach organs devoured by seven 6ft-long Nile monitor lizards he let roam free in his flat.
The huge reptiles - flesh-eating, venomous and endemic to Africa - were found by cops covered in their owner's blood and were hissing aggressively at the officers.
To date Ronald's 2002 death remains one of the most terrifying and bizarre instances of a human being eaten by their pets.
Neighbour Jeff Wildonger, now aged 38, told The Sun Online: "If he didn't have those lizards there he'd be alive today, there's no doubt."
Ronald's body was found by cops propped up against the front door of the apartment with the enormous lizards feasting on his corpse.
Jeff added: "He was bitten a week or so - or two weeks - before he died. He came down with a staph infection, and I'm guessing his temperature was through the roof.
"He kept his apartment at like 80 degrees, so the closest place he could have cooled down was against that door where he expired."
It later emerged the lizards had been allowed to roam freely throughout his home
Jeff said he had spent some time inside Ronald's apartment, which was filled with free-roaming reptiles.
"He raised Madagascar hissing cockroaches, big cockroaches, two or three inches long. He would feed them to the lizards.
"He would just throw them on the ground and the lizards would chase after them. He'd also throw raw chicken on the ground. It was like going to the zoo."
Jeff also described seeing Ronald's body inside the apartment after cops failed to cover him up when they secured the scene.
He said: "You were able to stand 15ft from the door so the corpse was in sight. It was horrific.
"The blood had just all turned black, it looked like fake blood. His cheeks had been eaten off and his molars were where his ears should be.
"They had eaten his face, eaten his hands, they actually had eaten into his abdomen and eaten some of the internal organs."
Unfortunately, Jeff's claims that the lizards indirectly killed Ronald can never be proved as his post-mortem was ruled inconclusive.
Nile monitor lizards feast on small creatures, such as mice and rats, in the wild. Those in captivity are usually fed raw chicken.
Although they have become popular in the US as an exotic pet, they are considered dangerous due to their sharp teeth and the bacteria in their mouths.
This bacteria is not necessarily fatal to humans - but it can affect blood pressure and acts as a knockout punch on smaller creatures.
The then-SPCA director John Caldwell said the creatures were later placed in zoos or euthanized as one was acting aggressively, "going toward you, mouth open".