Dog-size lizards in the US

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The Argentine black-and-white tegu is a dog-sized lizard that has been spreading throughout the southeastern United States. This large lizard can grow up to four feet in length and has already proliferated widely throughout South Florida. It has also been spotted in several southeastern states, including South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, posing a potential threat to native species and farmers124567. The Argentine black-and-white tegu is native to South America and is an omnivorous creature, eating just about anything with nutritional value that it can fit in its mouth. This includes the eggs of ground-nesting animals such as birds and reptiles, including endangered sea turtles, as well as small animals, fruits, and vegetables that grow low to the ground12467. The spread of these lizards in the U.S. is largely attributed to the pet trade. Between 2000 and 2010 alone, more than 79,000 live tegus were imported from South America. While only a small number of these animals escape or are released, biologists believe the problem is worsening124. Efforts to control the spread of these lizards include trapping and rehoming them. For instance, the Georgia Reptile Society has a Tegu Task Force, where residents can submit photos of suspected tegus for identification. Once identified, the society’s volunteers trap the animal and bring it to a rescue facility, where they are then given to people who want them as pets124. However, the best way to address the problem is by preventing their spread to the wild in the first place. Some states, such as Alabama, have enacted laws barring the animal’s import, and others may follow suit1. Despite these efforts, the tegu's hardiness and adaptability make it difficult to control or reduce their spread once the species becomes established24. In conclusion, the Argentine black-and-white tegu, a dog-sized lizard, is an invasive species that has been spreading throughout the southeastern United States, posing a threat to native species and farmers. Efforts are being made to control their spread, but their hardiness and adaptability present significant challenges.
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