TAMPA, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking for help from Floridians to control an invasive lizard species that poses a threat to native wildlife.
"Argentine black and white tegus are not native to our state, and they pose a serious threat to native species including ground nesting birds and reptiles such as burrowing owls and alligators," FWC said on Facebook.
A tegu is a large lizard with a mottled black and white coloration that is often arranged into a banding pattern across the back and tail, according to FWC.
The lizards can grow to four and a half feet, weigh around 10 pounds and can live up to 20 years. They eat fruits, eggs, insects and small animals like reptiles and rodents. FWC says they may also eat pet food that's left outside.
Beginning in February the lizards start to breed. FWC says the females lay an average of 35 eggs per year. According to FWC, reproducing populations are established in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade Counties.
FWC says biologists just removed the one hundredth tegu from the wild in Florida.
If you come across a tegu, report it to FWC here or by calling their exotic species hotline 888-483-4681.
If you have a tegu or other exotic animal that you can no longer care for, do not let it loose — call FWC and their Exotic Pet Amnesty Program can help you re-home the animal.
For more information on tegus, click here.