If a lethal pandemic, Asian homicide hornets, and big gypsy moths weren’t sufficient, 2020 has one thing new in retailer for the US — big, invasive lizards that would wreak havoc on native wildlife.
The Argentine tegu lizard is spreading through a number of southern states, feasting on the eggs of ground-nesting birds and different reptiles, corresponding to American alligators and the endangered gopher tortoise, based on the Georgia Division of Pure Assets (DNR).
Believing that the lizards unfold after pet house owners launched them into the wild, the reptiles are actually thought-about to be “established” in parts of Florida and Georgia, the DNR warns.
The division is now on the prowl attempting to eradicate the black and white lizards — which might develop as much as four-and-a-half ft lengthy — from the state earlier than they’ll ravage Georgia wildlife.
DNR wildlife biologist John Jensen stated there’s concern that the reptiles will “displace” the gopher tortoise, a candidate for Endangered Species Act itemizing, in the event that they proceed to unfold through the state.
“They will have damaging impacts on our native species. They eat absolutely anything they need — plant and animal matter. And one of their favourite meals is eggs,” Jensen stated in a video PSA the division revealed just lately, titled “Have You Seen Tegus within the Wild in Georgia?”
“We actually encourage most people to report sightings of this animal. That permits us to find out the place to focus our trapping efforts in an effort to eradicate this species,” Jensen stated.
Jensen stated the lizards are “widespread” pets and warned house owners in opposition to letting theirs free in Georgia.
“For those who’ve come to some extent the place you not need this animal, there are reptile adoption teams which will take it and attempt to discover a residence,” he stated.
“Releasing it into the wild is absolutely the worst factor to do.”