Invasive tegu lizards expanding in Georgia, DNR urges people to report sightings

Polarbear

Black and white tegus are invasive reptile species native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. The species was introduced to Florida through the pet trade and then likely released from captivity into the environment. The lizards have been steadily moving to Northern Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama over the past few years.

The lizard grows up to 4 feet long and weighs 10 pounds or more. Researchers are mainly concerned about the tegus' eating habits because their diet mainly consists of eggs of other birds and reptiles, which means they pose a threat to endangered native species.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources is reminding the public to be on the lookout for a wild South American lizard that is gaining a foothold in the State. The DNR asks that you note the location, take a photo if possible and report the sighting at gainvasives.org/tegus or by calling (478) 994-1438.

In Georgia, the lizards have a wild population in Tattnall and Toombs counties. The tegu lizards can multiply quickly — about 35 eggs a year — and have few predators, according to wildlife officials. State officials even added that tegus are not native to Georgia and residents can kill the animals if they see them in the wild.

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