Dog Sized Reptiles Wreck Havoc on Local Communities, Begin to Migrate Further Into U.S.

They aren’t the shape-shifting kind but these illegal alien reptiles are scaring state wildlife scientists. A whole bunch of lizards from Argentina invaded Florida and they “grow to be the size of a large dog.” The part that gives agriculturalists nightmares is data proving the problem is “only getting worse” and they’re migrating even further. Tegus make great pets though!

Reptiles roaming loose

Strange new Reptiles which grow up to four feet long are emerging from the swamp. Florida natives know it’s Autumn when chilled iguanas start falling off branches all over the place. Affectionately calling them “chicken of the trees,” folks love to warm the stunned iguanas up later. Nice and toasty, Cajun style, in a frying pan. These are different.

Argentine black and white tegus “were introduced to Florida and Miami-Dade County from their native South America via the exotic pet trade.” Now, they’re running around loose and breeding like rabbits.


These alien lizards are considered a “major threat to Florida’s ecosystem.” Because these reptiles make such good pets, they were initially imported from South America to be raised domestically, Melissa Miller explains. She’s the invasive species research coordinator at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Tegus are intelligent and docile when raised from hatchlings, but the problem arises when they escape or get let out by their owners when they grow to their full size of four feet long.” That’s not a good thing. “Once in the wild, they wreak havoc.”


The bigger they get, the more they eat. “They’re omnivores, so they eat everything. They’re eating a lot of native wildlife like gopher tortoises, and they steal eggs from alligator nests.” Thankfully the “mini-Godzillas” aren’t as numerous as the Burmese python. That doesn’t mean they aren’t just as big a threat. The ravenous reptiles “pose as great a threat as their legless cousins, and perhaps an even greater one. Because they like to snack on endangered and threatened species native to Everglades National Park.”

Because they can’t read the signs that say they aren’t allowed to hunt there, “the invasive lizards are hampering Everglades restoration efforts, which already cost the state and federal governments billions of dollars.”


Segregate the swamp

Environmentalists like Ms. Miller are frustrated because they can’t keep the illegal aliens from moving into the pristine neighborhood.

“We’re trying to restore the Everglades and get the hydrology right, and we want native animals there instead of invasive species like tegus and pythons.” Liberals consider that species discrimination against the reptiles and will be filing for an injunction.

Trying to get a handle on the problem, IFAS just put out a brand new “fact sheet” explaining all about the controversial reptiles. The bulletin highlights the “runaway train” of tegu and invasive reptile spread in Florida and beyond.”

Between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), the National Park Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, they’ve been trapping record numbers of the aliens. “In 2019, the last year for which tegu capture data is available, tegu numbers saw a huge spike, with a total of 1,452 tegus captured throughout the state, compared to 890 the previous year.”

Unlike their tasty cousin, the iguana, “the biggest issue of all with these encroaching critters is their ability to live in colder temperatures, which means they won’t be contained to South Florida for long.” There’s “already an established population in Georgia.” The Everglades is like a luxury resort playground designed just for them though.

The reptiles “don’t like water and marshland,” but “they thrive on tree islands in the Everglades and use manmade levees as ‘highways’ to dart around the national park.” They like the farm life too. “They’ve also been found in debris piles on farmlands in the agricultural areas of Miami-Dade.” They like chicken eggs and chicken as much as we do.

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