Tegu lizards: an invasive species of giant lizard has made its way to the southeast
Wildlife officials fear that invasive species will compete with native animals for food and other resources, cause habitat damage and transmit disease. Invasive species can attack native wildlife, so the department has a strategy to conserve native species and their habitats statewide.
Lizards also have few predators, so they can multiply quickly.
It is not known how they were released into the wild, but tegu lizards are legal as pets in many states, so it is possible that a domestic lizard was released, either intentionally or accidentally.
In Georgia, Natural Resources Department officials began investigating reports of tegu in eastern Toombs and western Tattnall counties in May.
The department works with the US Geological Society and Georgia Southern University to trap animals in order to eliminate them and assess their population. Trapped tegus are euthanized and their diet and reproductive status documented.
Tegus don’t pose a great threat to humans, but they can bite.