The Tegu lizard is a large reptile that can grow to be 3-4 long. It’s native land is Argentina, South America. They have been spotted in South Florida for years but apparently have made their way up the state and are now being spotted in small numbers in Brevard County.
Lats year there was big hoopla in the media when a Tegu lizard was spotted in a Palm Bay neighborhood. The residents were very concerned because they are not used to seeing a lizard this large on the loose. And even though it can’t kill humans, if it bites you a serious infection can develop. They can also eat small pets such as puppies and kittens. So, naturally, families are worried about these creatures in their neighborhoods.
The lizard likes warm weather and likes to bury itself in sandy ground. And Brevard County is known for being warm and sandy. So it is no wonder the lizard likes it here. On the other side of the state, near Tampa, the lizards seem to be thriving. There have been hundreds of Tegu lizard sightings in Hillsborough County and the local wildlife department has trapped many of them.
Asked about how these lizards got to the state of Florida, FWC biologist, Tessie Offner said: “People buy these cute little lizards at the pet store and then they grow to be too big for an aquarium and they are too expensive to feed and then they just set them free in the preserves,”. Offner went on to say “They produce rapidly, laying between 25-50 eggs at a time,” said Offner. “They eat everything from plants to other animals with bones and shells- also amphibians, and birds.”
The lizard is considered a threat to the habitat and native turtle species have already fallen victim to this lizard species.
Wildlife officials are asking people to report all sightings. You can go to the Brevard County website for contact information.
Photo courtesy of Florida Today.