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Florida is Being Invaded By Exotic Tegu Lizards

From Burmese pythons to Lion fish to rock pythons to giant African snails, Florida is home to a plethora of invasive species.

And now, the latest animal threatening to eat all of the things in the Everglades and other parts of the wild, is a particularly jerky thing called the tegu lizard.

And, like all the other invasive creatures invading our fine state, these suckers love to eat, screw, and cause havoc.

See also: Florida Is Being Invaded By Giant Snails

Like most invasive species, the tegu were brought here as an exotic pet.

And one can totally see why.

They grow four to five feet in length, are covered in black and white speckles, and have sharp claws.

They sound delightful!

And, like most invasive species, they're beginning to escape into the wild and fornicate like the dickens, eating everything in sight. Since they're invasive, they have no known predator. So it's a free-for-all for the tegu.

The tegu is native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, but not Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation is reporting that more than 100 tegu lizards have been spotted in Hillsborough County, making it one of the main hot spots for tegu breeding in Florida.

The FWC has stepped up its efforts to try to contain the tegu as more and more reports of people spotting them around the state have surfaced.

From USA Today:

"People buy these cute little lizards at the pet store and then they grow to be too big for an aquarium and they are too expensive to feed and then they just set them free in the preserves," said FWC biologist, Tessie Offner.

"They produce rapidly, laying between 25-50 eggs at a time," said Offner. "They eat everything from plants to other animals with bones and shells- also amphibians, and birds."

And since no one ever thought someone would bring a tegu to Florida, there are no laws preventing folks from owning one.

Meanwhile, they're threatening to take over the top spot of Biggest Pricks in the Swamp from the Burmese python.

They love to feast on eggs, and attack alligator nests, owl nests, and baby snakes.

And with them and the pythons running amok in the Florida wilderness, there's no telling how fast and how destructive things are getting.

Tegu's are large, intelligent, and resourceful. They can run fast, swim fast, dig, burrow, and survive almost any temperature. They can grow to up to 4-feet long and weigh in at as much as 30 pounds. And a mature female tegu can lay around 35 eggs a year.

They're basically The Terminator of invasive species.

They're not aggressive, but they will defend themselves if they feel threatened. Which means biting off a finger if you try to grab one.

For now, the FWC is doing all it can to control the situation They've set 28 traps in the parkland and dozens more on private property, lining the traps with raw chicken eggs. Caught tegus are then euthanized humanely.

The FWC is also asking people who spot one to let it know right away. Take a photo of it, note the location, and call an animal trapper immediately.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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