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