Hunters! Look Out For Giant Argentine Lizards In The Woods
The state is asking hunters to be on the lookout for tegus, an exotic lizard establishing in the wild in Toombs and Tattnall counties.
Going hunting this month in Toombs or Tattnall counties? Keep an eye out for tegus, and let Georgia DNR know if you spot one of these big South American lizards.
DNR is working with the U.S. Geological Survey and Georgia Southern University to remove a population of Argentine black and white tegus that established in the wild in Toombs and Tattnall counties. Likely started by escaped or released pets, these tegus pose a significant threat to native wildlife.
“Our hunters can be a valuable resource in controlling the tegu population,” said WRD Director Rusty Garrison. “If you are a hunter in this area of the state, please be on the look out, and let us know whether the tegu is dead or alive.”
In Georgia, tegus can be trapped or killed in accordance with local ordinances. As a non-native species, they are not protected by state wildlife laws or regulations.
Argentine black and white tegus, the largest tegu species, will eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds, including quail and turkeys, and eggs of other reptiles, such as alligators and gopher tortoises.
DNR and partners are trapping tegus and tracking sightings. But your help is needed. In late summer and fall, tegus will be more active before they retreat into burrows for brumation, or reptile hibernation. Argentine black and white tegus are primarily active during the day. Hatchlings (which have green heads until about one month old) are at least 6 to 8 inches long. But they grow fast. Females can lay 35 eggs a year. Adults captured in Georgia have been 3 feet or longer. In comparison, none of Georgia’s native lizards with legs reaches more than a foot long. Six tegus have been collected in Tattnall and Toombs counties this year.
If you see, trap or kill a tegu, take a photo and report the animal and the location by contacting 478.994.1438 or [email protected].
As with any wild animal, use appropriate caution. While tegus in the wild do not pose a specific threat to people or pets, they have strong jaws and sharp teeth and can bite and scratch and even lash with their tails. Learn more at georgiawildlife.com/tegus.