South American lizard ‘established’ in two Ga. counties

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TATTNALL COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) -- The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is now saying the Argentine black and white Tegus lizard has become "established as an exotic invasive species” in Toombs and Tattnall counties.

The species is not native to the United States. DNR states the species likely has been released by pet owners or escaped from their owners into the wild. It is not illegal to own them in Georgia, but it is illegal to release an exotic pet into the wild.

Adult tegus have few predators and can multiply quickly, according to DNR. Females can lay about 35 eggs a year. Tegus will eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds—including quail and turkeys—and other reptiles, such as American alligators and gopher tortoises, both protected species.

The DNR Research Division began investigating reported sightings of the lizard in 2018 in Toombs and Tattnall counties.

Due to the fact that tegus are non-native species, they can be killed with the landowner’s permission. DNR is encouraging residents to humanely trap and/or kill the lizards if possible.

DNR is asking residents to report any sightings, live or dead, of the lizard to help eradicate the species from the area.

Report a sighting:
Online: www.gainvasives.org/tegus
Phone: (478) 994-1438
Email: gainvasives@dnr.ga.gov

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