Invasive lizards that eat 'anything they want' invade Georgia

Katie Ramirez
May 18, 2020

Argentine black and white tegus are native to South American countries, including Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and their namesake Argentina.

A species of massive lizard is causing concern for wildlife officials in the USA state of Georgia, who are attempting to eradicate the invasive reptilian from the state after numerous sightings.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is warning that an invasive species of giant lizards known as the Argentine black and white tegus has established itself in the state. "We're asking residents in the area to report them, which helps us assess the problem and remove tegus", Daniel Sollenberger, a senior wildlife biologist with DNR's Wildlife Conservation Section told Insider.

It's the largest lizard of its species and it is now calling Georgia home, which has wildlife officials concerned.

They also will eat nearly anything, officials said.

"One of their favorite foods is eggs from ground-nesting animals such as gopher tortoise - our protected state reptile".

"If you are able to safely and humanely dispatch of the animal, we encourage that and we want that information too", Jensen said in his video about the lizards. "They can lay about 35 eggs a year". It said they are "black to gray with white, speckled bands across their bodies".

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As the lizard has become a "common" pet, Jensen noted that owners can turn in their tegu to a reptile adoption group if they no longer want it.

"Releasing it into the wild is the absolute worst thing to do", he said.

The reptiles have also been found in parts of Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The Orianne Society said the lizard "has the potential to spread rapidly".

In a Facebook post earlier this week, the Orianne Society wrote, "Tegus seen in Georgia can and should be shot on sight."

Because tegus are an invasive species, people can also kill them on private property if necessary.

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