The invasion of large and voracious lizards threatens the southern United States …

Tegu lizards, currently living in two large colonies in Florida, could expand into an area from the Carolinas to central Texas, according to the scientific report published in the Nature magazine's website in July.

A group of South American lizards that can grow up to four feet (1.2 meters) long established a home in wild Florida after being brought to the United States as pets, and reptiles could begin a voracious march through southern states. United, according to a new study.

Tegu lizards, currently living in two large colonies in Florida, could expand into an area from the Carolinas to central Texas, according to the scientific report published in the Nature magazine's website in July.

"They are voracious, omnivorous predatory lizards that can live in a variety of habitats, but we can not know what will happen or how intense this invasion will be until the effects are upon us," said Lee Fitzgerald, a professor at the University of California. Texas A & M and curator of its Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections.

Tegu lizards, currently living in two large colonies in Florida, could expand into an area from the Carolinas to central Texas, according to the scientific report published in the Nature magazine's website in July.

Tegu lizards, currently living in two large colonies in Florida, could expand into an area from the Carolinas to central Texas, according to the scientific report published in the Nature magazine's website in July.

WHAT ARE THE TEGU LIZARDS?

The South American lizards that can grow up to four feet long (1.2 meters)

Armed with strong jaws and tails they can wield as weapons, Florida lizards devour the eggs of American alligators and birds that nest on the ground, wildlife officials said.

Reptiles also like insects, fruits and birds.

Tegu owners describe their pets as large, quiet, and occasionally affectionate lizards who like to sunbathe and are not picky about what they eat.

Fitzgerald, a co-author of the study, said in an interview this week that tegu lizards could take years to reach their potential range, but new hot spots appear as more pet lizards escape or are released by the owners.

There are no current estimates of wild tegus populations in the United States. In South America, large lizards extend widely east of the Andes and include species such as the Argentine tegu in black and white.

Armed with strong jaws and tails they can wield as weapons, Florida lizards devour the eggs of American alligators and birds that nest on the ground, wildlife officials said.

Reptiles also like insects, fruits and birds.

"As for being a harmful invasive species, it really depends on what resources are threatened in the areas where tegus can be obtained," said Robert Reed, head of the Division of Invasive Species Science at the US Geological Survey. UU., And another report co-author.

Tegu owners describe their pets as large, quiet, and occasionally affectionate lizards who like to sunbathe and are not picky about what they eat. But they can also be unpleasant and difficult to handle.

In Florida, local wild populations of tegu lizards are found in at least two counties, Miami-Dade and Hillsborough, home of Tampa, while there have been sightings in other parts of the state, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Florida

A black and white Tegu lizard is shown in the Florida Everglades in this photo taken on August 2, 2018

A black and white Tegu lizard is shown in the Florida Everglades in this photo taken on August 2, 2018

A black and white Tegu lizard is shown in the Florida Everglades in this photo taken on August 2, 2018

On private land, unlicensed Florida hunters are allowed to kill tegu lizards if done humanely.

On public lands, the state is trying to get rid of lizards through traps.

"The most important thing the public can do to stop the spread of non-native species like the tegus is to NEVER release non-native animals in the wild," commissioner Jamie Rager said in an email.

& # 39; Do not let go. & # 39;

The Tegu lizards (pictured) are found living in semi-deserts, Savannah and the tropical forests in South America usually sunbathe most of the year to warm up every morning, but during the mating season they were able to raise their body temperature through the cold nights

The Tegu lizards (pictured) are found living in semi-deserts, Savannah and the tropical forests in South America usually sunbathe most of the year to warm up every morning, but during the mating season they were able to raise their body temperature through the cold nights

The Tegu lizards (pictured) are found living in semi-deserts, Savannah and the tropical forests in South America usually sunbathe most of the year to warm up every morning, but during the mating season they were able to raise their body temperature through the cold nights

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