Giant invasive lizard spotted in Georgia, residents being asked to report and kill it

National

A black and white Argentine Tegu lizard sticks out its tongue at the Yebo Gogga exhibition at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg Wednesday, May 13, 2015. The five-day event showpieces small animals, plants, insects, snakes and all things connected to nature!(AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

REIDSVILLE, Ga. (AP) —An invasive South American lizard Georgia officials are attempting to eradicate was sighted for the third year in a row, a reptile conservation group said.

The lizard — known as tegus — was recently found in Tattnall County, Georgia, the Orianne Society said Monday in a Facebook post. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said the Argentine lizards, which have established themselves in both Tattnall and Toombs counties, likely originated in the state as escaped pets or were released into the wild.

“Many of the public that encounter these often report them, thinking that they look like a baby alligator well away from the water,” said John Jensen, an official with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, in a YouTube Video posted on May 8.

“They eat just about anything they want, plant and animal matter,” Jensen added.

The tegus, which can grow up to 4 feet long, poses a threat to protected native wildlife, including American alligators and gopher tortoises. The black and white tegus have been documented using gopher tortoise burrows and eating tortoise and alligator eggs, as well as the tortoise young.

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