Remember when all you had to worry about was a murder hornet? Yeah well, forget that. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says Tegus lizards are posing a real risk to those of us in Georgia.
Tegus lizards were detected in areas of Georgia last year. They’ were believed to have moved from Florida into south Georgia. It was just announced that they have been detected in Tooms and Tattnall counties and the fear is that the lizards have the potential to spread rapidly to other parts of the state.
I know what you're thinking. "Who cares about another lizard?" But they can grow up to 4-feet long and weigh around ten pounds. Many mistake them for baby alligators. And they can cause some real problems.
The Argentine Black and White Tegus is a large lizard that’s not native to the United States. Georgia DNR is working to remove them from Tooms and Tattnall counties because they can have negative impacts on our native species. They eat anything they want – plant and animal matter. One of their favorite foods are eggs from ground nesting animals.
While they can be kept as pets, it is imperative that owners who decide they don’t want them anymore NOT release them into the wild. When they start to get big, it gets a lot harder to care for them.
Officials are warning people in Toombs and Tattnall counties to keep pet food inside, fill holes that might serve as shelter and clear yards of debris, such as brush piles that can provide cover. They also want to remind people that if they come across these lizards, alive or dead, to call the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. These reports will help biologists document occurrences and respond effectively. Also, make sure you note the location, take a photo if possible and inform the DNR that you took pictures when you report it.
The DNR notes that as a non-native species, Tegus in the wild in Georgia are not protected by state wildlife laws or regulations. They can be legally trapped or killed. However, DNR said animal cruelty and local ordinances do apply.
Watch the video below to find out more.
Photo: Getty Images