Officials asking public to help them track 4-foot long, invasive lizards

Black and white Tegu lizard at Iguazu Falls the waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the Brazil Argentina border

"They eat just about anything they want", retired Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division biologist John Jensen said in a 2019 video about the lizards.

"Tegus will eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds-including quail and turkeys-and other reptiles, such as American alligators and gopher tortoises, both protected species", DNR officials said on their website.

According to the Orianne Society, which works to conserve critical ecosystems for imperiled reptiles and amphibians, this is now the third year in a row that full-grown, adult Argentine black and white tegus have been trapped in the wild in southern Georgia.

The department said the lizards are native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

It's the largest lizard of its species and it is now calling Georgia home, which has wildlife officials concerned.

Georgia wildlife officials are trying to eradicate a giant, invasive lizard species with the potential to wreak havoc on the state's native wildlife. "We're asking residents in the area to report them, which helps us assess the problem and remove tegus", Daniel Sollenberger, a senior wildlife biologist with DNR's Wildlife Conservation Section told Insider.

A black and white tegu

They also eat fruit, vegetables, insects, pet food and small animals. The tegu lizard population was found in Tattnall and Toombs Counties and has the potential to spread rapidly. It said they are "black to gray with white, speckled bands across their bodies". It advises that any sightings of the lizard in Georgia be reported to the state Department of Natural Resources - along with a photo of the lizard, if possible.

"If you are able to safely and humanely dispatch of the animal, we encourage that and we want that information too", he added.

Female tegus can lay about 35 eggs a year, and the lizards don't have many predators, meaning they can multiply quickly, according to Georgia's DNR website.

"Tegus seen in Georgia can and should be shot on sight", their post said.

Tegus are not the only invasive species of recent concern.

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