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Large South American lizards on the loose in Georgia

By Ben Hooper
Large South American lizards on the loose in Georgia
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is asking residents to be on the lookout for South American tegu lizards spotted in two counties. Photo by joelfotos/Pixabay.com

March 20 (UPI) -- Wildlife officials in Georgia are asking residents to keep an eye out for large South American lizards spotted in the area.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said Argentine black and white tegus have been spotted in Toombs and Tattnall Counties, where the South American reptiles are not native but are legal to keep as pets.

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"Things like this with the Tegus I think the pet owners - the novelty wears off or they also realize that they require a lot of food and a lot of space," DNR Senior Wildlife Biologist John Jensen told WTOL-TV.

The lizards, which can grow to up to 4 1/2 feet, have been spotted and caught on trail cameras in the two counties, but none of yet been captured.

Jensen said the lizards may have escaped or been abandoned by their owners.

"The fact is they are also really strong animals at four-and-a-half feet long. You have to have some pretty substantial security to a cage to keep them from being able to bust out," he said.

The lizards are not believed to be a danger to humans or their pets.

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"They like eggs, they like bugs. They like plants and fruits, things they can easily obtain. They're not real fast. they are not going to run down prey. They don't have venom to overcome like that," Jensen said.

The DNR is asking residents to report any sightings of the tegus so they can be captured and properly cared for.

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