Georgian authorities work to eradicate invasive 4-foot-long lizard species
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There is more to add to this list of invasive species that you just discovered that you already don’t like.
Georgian authorities are working to completely eradicate a lizard they say poses a major threat to some of the state’s native wildlife: the Argentine black-and-white tegus.
John Jensen, Biologist in the Wildlife Conservation Section of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, noted the lizard can reach a size of around four feet and can eat “just about anything it wants”.
“Tegus will eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds – including quails and turkeys – and other reptiles, such as American alligators and marbled turtles, two protected species,” according to the ministry website.
They can also eat fruits, vegetables, pet foods, and small animals, including grasshoppers and waffle turtles.
Biologists believe the lizards are found in Toombs and Tattnall counties in Georgia.
Lizards are native to South America, according to the department on their website, weigh around 10 pounds and live to be 20 years old. They are black to gray with speckled white bands on the body.
And they multiply rapidly. They don’t have a lot of predators, and females can lay about 35 eggs per year, the department said.
Jensen said that while lizards often make their own burrows, they can also use those of other animals and move them.
Jensen said the department is asking the public to report any sightings of the reptile to help them in their efforts to track and eradicate the lizards.
“If you are able to ship the animal safely and humanely, we encourage that and we want this information as well,” Jensen said.
Lizards are legal in Georgia as pets, but Jensen urged pet owners who may no longer want their lizards to contact reptile adoption organizations.
“Releasing him back into the wild is the worst thing to do,” he said.
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