Argentine Giant Tegus Take Foothold in Southern U.S.

   05.18.20

Sorry Georgia, but it sounds like another non-native animal species has established itself in the U.S. and has setup shop in two counties in the Peach State.

Argentine black and white tegus (commonly called Argentine giant tegus) are large lizards that have established themselves as an exotic invasive species in several areas of southern Florida, and are now believed to have reached the Toombs and Tattnall county area of Georgia, John Jensen of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Conservation section explains in the video below. He says there are current efforts taking place to try and remove the lizards because they could have negative impacts on other native species, like their protected state reptile, the gopher tortoise.

Tegus also eat both plant and animal matter, with one of their favorite foods being eggs from birds like turkey and quail, Jensen said. They can grow to be four feet long and can weigh over 10 pounds. The reptiles are popular on the pet trade market, which is the main reason why wildlife officers think the populations found in Georgia were from escaped or illegally released animals.

From hunters to farmers, Georgia DNR is asking everyone in Toombs and Tattnall counties to watch for tegus when outdoors and report any of these non-native lizards they see.

Keep in mind that many people who encounter them often report them thinking they look like a baby alligator, which have a similar banded pattern and are almost the same shape as an Argentine tegu.

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