Apr 14, 2022 - News

Invasive tegu lizard that can "eat almost anything" spotted again in Georgia

A black-and-white South American tegus lizard is displayed on a table

Photo courtesy of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

They’re big, they’re voracious eaters, and they’re not welcome ‘round these parts. We’re talking about the Argentine black-and-white tegu, the invasive lizard wildlife officials want to keep from spreading in Georgia.

Driving the news: Officials from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources this week said the lizard has been spotted — yet again — in southeast Georgia’s Toombs and Tattnall counties.

Details: The black-and-white lizards can reach up to four feet long and weigh more than 10 pounds. They feast on the eggs of ground-nesting birds like the bobwhite quail, wild turkeys and whip-poor-wills and pose a threat to wildlife like gopher tortoises.

  • Since 2018, wildlife officials have been trying to stop the lizard’s spread before they become established.

What they’re saying: Daniel Sollenberger, a DNR biologist, said in a statement that tegus “can live almost anywhere and eat almost anything,” much like that roommate you had in college, remember?

If you spot ‘em: DNR asks that you report any tegu sighting — regardless of whether it's live or dead. Though they are not considered aggressive, it's best to leave the lizards alone.

  • Feel free to trap the tegu in a safe and humane manner and contact wildlife officials.

Of note: Wildlife officials don’t know how tegus started spreading in Georgia, but they could be discarded or escaped pets. “Do your research before buying an exotic pet, and don’t let it loose,” the agency says.


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