Exotic South American Tegu Lizards Invading Florida

By  //  February 26, 2014

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FWC Confirms 100 Sightings in South Florida

ABOVE VIDEO: The South American Tegu Lizard is spreading throughout Florida. Video Courtesy of ABC.

tegu-180Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has confirmed 100 sightings of the  Argentine black and white tegu, Tupinambis merianae, in Hillsborough County. The exotic lizard native to South America has been breeding and spreading throughout south Florida.

According to wildlife officials, the average mature female tegu grows up to four feet in length and lays around 35 eggs a year. Officials are urging Floridians not to release exotic species into the wild. FWC has confirmed the lizard has appeared in Polk, Miami-Dade & Hillsborough County.

FWC advises those who see a Tegu to take a picture, note the location and call the exotic species hotline at1-888-Ive-Got1 or online at IveGot1.org.

Tegu fast facts (By FWC)

  • Tegus are native to South America.
  • The tegu’s diet includes fruits, vegetables, eggs, insects, cat or dog food, and small animals such as lizards and rodents.
  • Like many reptiles, tegus are most active during the daytime.
  • The tegu is a large species of lizard and can grow up to 4 feet in length.
  •  In a burrow, a tegu can survive temperatures as low as 35°F (1.6°C).
  • Tegus spend the colder months of the year in a burrow or under artificial cover.
  • On average, a mature female tegu will lay around 35 eggs a year.
  • In Florida, tegu eggs hatch early in the summer.
  • Anything that attracts dogs, cats, or raccoons can attract a tegu!

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