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US Combating Invasive Species Of Lizard That Grows Up To Four Feet

Shutterstock/Vinicius R. Souza

Harold Hutchison Contributor
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Authorities in Georgia are trying to get rid of some unwelcome lizards from South America, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

Argentine black and white tegus have been seen on the loose in two southeast Georgia counties, and they pose a serious threat to wildlife in the Peach State, the New York Post reports.

The lizards, which eat the eggs of turkeys, quail, alligators, and tortoises, as well as carrion, pet food, fruits, vegetables, and young gopher tortoises, grow to about four feet long and can weigh up to ten pounds, according to the website of the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The lizards are legal as pets in Georgia, and females can lay up to 35 eggs, which would hatch around June or July.

Georgia officials say the lizards are not aggressive towards people, according to the New York Post, but Georgia Wildlife reports that when threatened, tegus can bite or lash at people with their tails.

As an invasive species, the tegu is not protected by Georgia’s wildlife laws, meaning that they can be killed or trapped legally but the Georgia Department of Natural Resources noted that “animal cruelty and local ordinances apply, as do appropriate safety precautions.”

Florida has also been combating the tegu, even as snakes have drawn more public attention. Last month, a police officer’s apprehension of an uncooperative python in a St. Petersburg park was caught on video.