Large, non-native tegu lizard documented in South Carolina

Tegu Lizard

LEXINGTON, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has announced the first documented case of the large, non-native black and white tegu lizard in the state.

The department said in a news release that an approximately 2.5 feet long adult female was captured in Lexington County.

The lizards are popular in the pet trade and can grow to 4 feet long, according to the release.

Andrew Grosse, a herpetologist with the department, said in a statement Friday that the lizards, which have become established in neighboring Georgia and in Florida, pose a threat to native wildlife.

“Tegus mature and reproduce quickly, though most concerning may be their preference for eggs and the potential impacts to our native ground-nesting birds like turkey and quail, as well as other species such as the state-endangered gopher tortoise,” Grosse said.

The department is asking the public to report sightings of the lizards.