Rare, non-native species of lizard spotted in South Carolina

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SOUTH CAROLINA (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — A rare lizard has been spotted in South Carolina and it’s prompting wildlife officials to sound the alarm.

FOX 46 had the chance to speak with a coordinator from a local reptile and amphibian rescue about the non-native “black and white tegu” and why there might be more homelessness.

“I received a lot of concern from the public,” said Andrew Grosse.

Grosse works with the DNR Reptile and Amphibian Center.

“We always try to make 100% sure before we post that there are others running,” Grosse said.

South Carolina documented its first sighting of the non-native species in Lexington. It was a rare sight for the Carolinas.

“We have had a few unconfirmed reports at Columbia and Aiken. This one in Lexington was the first we were able to get a specimen that matched what we thought – it was a black and white tegu,” Grosse said.

The adult female found in Lexington was about two and a half feet long. Black and white tegu lizards can grow up to four feet and weigh over ten pounds when fully grown, but don’t worry too much if you come across one.

“They’re not likely to be aggressive, but like any other wildlife, if threatened, they’ll definitely fight back,” says Grosse.

Lizards are omnivores and eat frogs, lizards and other small bird mammals. The Department of Natural Resources is concerned about ground-nesting birds, such as turkeys and quail.

“Any time you introduce another species into an ecosystem, it will upset the balance you have, especially a top predator like a large lizard.”

The lizard species is popular in the pet trade, which may explain how we ended up here. Grosse says it’s probably from a release or an escape. Wildlife officials say to do your research before buying one as a pet.

“If you have enough, there are rehabilitation centers that will take them. Please don’t let them go.

Please report any sightings of black and white tegus in the wild to Andrew Grosse, [email protected] If possible, please submit a photo, location, time and date the lizard was seen.

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