Giant invading lizards – ask people in Georgia to help track these reptiles over 1 meter

(CNN) – There’s one more animal to add to that list of invasive species that you’ve only heard about so far and you certainly won’t like.

Officials in Georgia state are working to completely eradicate a lizard that they say poses a great threat to some of the state’s animals: the Argentine black and white tegus, also known as the overo lizard.

John Jensen, a biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Conservation Section, said this lizard can grow up to about 1.2 meters and eat “almost anything it wants.”

“Tegus will eat the eggs of birds that nest in the ground – including quail and turkeys – and other reptiles, such as American alligators and land turtles, both protected species,” according to the website. from the Department.

They can also eat fruits, vegetables, pet food, and small animals, including grasshoppers and land turtles.

Biologists believe the lizards are in Toombs and Tattnall counties.

The lizards are native to South America, the department reports on its website, weighing about 10 pounds or more and living for up to 20 years. They are black to gray in color, with mottled white bands on their bodies.

And they multiply quickly. They don’t have many predators, and females can lay about 35 eggs in a year, the department said.

Jensen said that while lizards often create their own burrows, they can also use those of other animals and displace them.

He added that the department is asking the public to report any sightings of the reptile to aid them in their efforts to track down and eradicate the lizards.

“If you can safely and humanely eliminate the animal, we encourage you to do so and we also want that information,” said Jensen.

Lizards are legal in Georgia as pets, but Jensen urged owners who no longer want these animals to contact reptile adoption organizations.

“Releasing him to nature is the worst thing he can do,” he insisted.

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