Lizards that can grow 4-feet long targeted in Georgia

Published 1:41 pm Thursday, May 14, 2020


The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is working with partners to eradicate a wild population of Argentine black and white tegus in Toombs and Tattnall counties in southeast Georgia.

Growing up to 4 feet long and weighing 10 pounds or more, this lizard native to South America is an invasive species that threatens Georgia wildlife.

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Tegus will eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds—including quail and turkeys—and other reptiles, such as American alligators and gopher tortoises, both protected species. They will also eat chicken eggs, fruit, vegetables, plants, pet food, carrion and small live animals, from grasshoppers to young gopher tortoises.

Early detection, rapid response and public involvement are key to stopping tegus in this area.

In Toombs and Tattnall, DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, the U.S. Geological Survey and Georgia Southern University are trapping tegus, tracking sightings and assessing the population.

Citizens are asked to report sightings in the wild, alive or dead to the Georgia DNR. These reports help biologists document occurrences and respond effectively. Note the location, take a photo if possible and report the sighting: