The Argentine black-and-white tegu, a large lizard that can grow up to four feet in length and weigh 10 pounds, has already made its mark in the Florida everglades...but now, it's also making its way across the U.S.


According to National Geographic, the Argentine black-and-white tegu has now been spotted in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. A black-and-white tegu was spotted and captured in College Station earlier this year.

Now these creatures are omnivores, so we're not under attack or anything, but they can cause dangers in other ways and biologists are concerned.

Biologists say the tegu will eat the eggs of ground-nesting animals such as birds and reptiles, including endangered sea turtles. They’ll eat doves and other small animals. They’ll also snag strawberries and other fruits and vegetables that grow low to the ground.

With the exception of the sea turtles, families throughout East Texas have reason to be concerned. We have many families that have chickens and other small animals on their property. We definitely have gardens and grow our own local fruits and vegetables.

So how did they get here? According to National Geographic, it is believed they were released into the wild by pet owners, or escaped from captivity. They are relatively calm lizards but can be tough to handle, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Amy Yackel Adams, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says that more than 79,000 live tegus were imported from South America from 2000 to 2010.

Early detection, rapid response, and public involvement are key to stopping tegus. If you spot a tegu, you're asked to contact Texas Parks & Wildlife.

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