Dragon Lizards In Georgia! Tegu Sightings Spike In Toombs, Tattnall Counties

DNR Press Release | July 10, 2024

Tegus taken, left, near I.S. Smith Road by Seth Edwards’ crew and by Zack Bowen on Ga. 147. (Special to DNR)

If you thought wild tegus were no longer an issue in Tattnall and Toombs counties, think again. Four Argentine black and white tegus were recently reported, on both sides of the county line.

Mendes resident Seth Edwards had a crew raking pine straw off I.S. Smith Road in eastern Toombs County when the leader called him on May 20. He was excited.

“He said, ‘We killed a dragon!’” Edwards recalled. “I said, ‘A what?’ He said, ‘A dragon … a big lizard!’”

That tegu, caught as it scrambled for a gopher tortoise burrow, measured more than 3 1/2 feet long. Meanwhile, just east across the Ohoopee River in Tattnall County, Reidsville landowner Zack Bowen killed a 28- to 30-inch tegu on Georgia Highway 147. Zack Bowen spotted the lizard crossing the road near his driveway May 24.

The tegus were the first confirmed in the region this spring, although a handful of unconfirmed yet credible sightings have also been reported.

Argentine black and white tegus, the world’s largest tegu, are native to parts of South America and invasive in Georgia. Growing up to 4 feet long and weighing 10 pounds or more, they eat everything from bird eggs to small animals and plants.

The state’s only known wild population of tegus is in Toombs and Tattnall.

More in this update.


  • Let DNR know when you spot a tegu in the wild, alive or dead. Note the location, take a photo if possible and report the sighting online or by phone (478-994-1438) or by email.
  • As a non-native species, tegus in the wild in Georgia are not protected by state wildlife laws or regulations. They can be trapped or killed year-round on private land with landowner permission and in accord with animal cruelty regulations, local ordinances and appropriate safety measures.
  • If you have any exotic pet, don’t let it loose. It is illegal to release a non-native animal into the wild without a permit.
  • Details at

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