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The Dangers of the Argentine Black and White Tegu Lizard to Native Species

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

The S C Department of Natural Resources is making every effort to prevent the invasive, exotic Argentine black and white tegu lizard from becoming more prevalent in the wild in our state. A new law prohibits the sale of this lizard, requires their owners of them to microchip them, and owners must notify the state if one escapes. As they can easily grow to four feet, if housed outside they must be kept in special double enclosures. Although omnivores, they eat the eggs of many ground- nesting birds, already threatened by fire ants and habitat extinction, devour alligator eggs, eat small mammals, reptiles and amphibians they catch as well as feeding on fruits, seeds, and carrion. Fortunately, they don’t climb, so tree-nesting birds are not endangered. They do pose another risk to native animals by potentially spreading exotic parasites and diseases.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.