The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) officials recorded its first-ever confirmed encounter of the black and white tegu South American-native lizard (Salvator merianae), as per a Fox Carolina report.

According to the officials, the black and white invasive reptile, was spotted in Lexington following an informative social media post that was made in May.

The adult female tegu measuring two-and-a-half feet long (0.762 m) was captured and taken away from Lexington County, according to Myrtle Beach Online.

Why Should We Worry About These Non-Native Species?


These omnivorous lizards eat various prey including birds, tiny mammals, reptiles and amphibians, fruits, vegetables, insects, and eggs reports Fox Carolina.

Herpetologist Andrew Grosse said:

When you introduce “any non-native species”, such as Black and white tegus, it can seriously and adversely impact “native wildlife.” 

Because these reptiles become “mature” and can swiftly “reproduce.”

The most alarming is maybe the tegu’s “preference for eggs ” because it can devastate “native ground-nesting” fowls, like “turkey and quail.” 

Not to mention other species, in particular, the “state-endangered gopher tortoise,” Grosse added.

Facts Found

  • Black and white tegu is the largest of all tegu species and is native to South American countries (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina.)
  • Tegus can grow up to four feet long (1.22 m) weigh up to 10 pounds (4.53 kg) and have a life span of about 20 years.
  • They have few predators and can multiply quickly because females can lay about 35 eggs annually.
  • They are not aggressive toward people, however, they will defend themselves if threatened by lashing their tails.
  •  These lizards have sharp teeth and claws and strong jaws.
  • Tegus are legal as pets in Georgia, but it is unlawful to release these animals into the wild.


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