Invasion Alert: Argentine Tegus Lizard Threatens Georgia Wildlife

April 14, 2024
1 min read
Invasion Alert: Argentine Tegus Lizard Threatens Georgia Wildlife
Argentine black and white tegus, the largest of all tegus, can reach 4 feet long and weigh 10 pounds or more.

🦎 The Gist: Invasive Argentine black and white tegus, a species of large lizard, have been spotted across Toombs and Tattnall counties in Georgia, raising concerns about local wildlife and ecosystem health.

🔍 The Details: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of over 20 of these tegu lizards. Sightings have occurred from Lyons to Reidsville. Native to South America, these lizards can reach up to four feet in length and have robust dietary habits that pose a significant threat to the native species of Georgia.

🌐 The Big Picture: Known for their adaptability and resilience, Argentine black and white tegus are particularly threatening as invasive species. Originating in South America, these lizards are versatile in habitat preference and are opportunistic feeders. Their dietary flexibility allows them to consume a wide range of food, from fruits and vegetables to small animals and eggs, leading to direct competition with native wildlife.

💡 Why It Matters: The introduction of tegus into Georgia poses a severe threat to local biodiversity. Their diet includes eggs from ground-nesting birds such as quail and turkeys, as well as hatchlings of gopher tortoises and alligators, putting these native species under considerable reproductive and survival pressure. The potential long-term impacts could lead to significant shifts in the local ecosystem dynamics.

👥 What You Can Do: Residents are urged to report any sightings of tegus—alive or dead—to the Georgia DNR to help track and manage the spread of this invasive species. Information can be submitted through the website at gainvasives.org/tegus, by phone at 478.994.1438, or via email at gainvasives@dnr.ga.gov.

🔮 What’s Next?: The DNR and its partners are continuing efforts to monitor and control the tegu population in affected areas, with ongoing research into more effective management strategies.

Conversation Starters:

  • What measures are being implemented to control tegu populations effectively?
  • Are there similar cases in other states, and what can be learned from those experiences?

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