State officials in two counties in Georgia, United States, have warned citizens of the increasing appearances of giant invasive lizards that can grow as big as four feet long. The Argentine black and white tegus, which are not native to the U.S. were first spotted in Florida but now, officials believe the lizards have increased in large numbers in Toombs and Tattnall counties in Georgia, John Jensen of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Conservation section said in a YouTube video.
Georgia Department of Natural Resource is asking everyone in Toombs and Tattnall counties to watch for tegus when outdoors and report any of these non-native lizards they see.
Jensen explained how the increasing occurrences these invasive lizards could threaten the native wildlife. Tegus also eat eggs from birds like turkey and quail, Jensen said, and could potentially take over the homes of burrowing animals, like gopher tortoises.
"They eat just about anything they want, plant and animal matter. And one of their favourite foods are eggs from ground-nesting animals, such as gopher tortoises, our protected state reptile," he said.
Wildlife officials are now working on ways to drive out the lizards. Jensen encouraged locals to report any tegus sightings online, to help officials' efforts in tracking and removing them. "If you're able to safely and humanely dispatch of the animal, we encourage that and we want that information, too," Jensen said.
Jenson has further appealed to US citizens if they have a tegus lizard as a pet and no longer want to pet them, then they should give them in some adoption centres as releasing them into the wild could affect the native species of animals.
"Releasing it into the wild is the absolute worst thing to do, it will affect our native species and we can't have that," he said.
[Image courtesy: Screengrab | GeorgiaWildlife]