Thursday, 13 July 2017

Large invasive lizard spotted near Palm Bay school,(Florida) – via Herp Digest

Tegus native to South America, can grow up to 4 feet
By Rick Neale , Florida Today, 7/6/17 

Palm Bay, FL - A large invasive lizard has been spotted sunbathing on the asphalt of Topeka Road, a short street near Jupiter Elementary in southwest Palm Bay, wildlife trapper James Dean said. 

According to News 6 partner Florida Today, Dean said he started receiving phone calls reporting a tegu during the past week or so, and he toured the residential neighborhood Sunday.

If he can zero in on the reptile's whereabouts, Dean plans to bait a trap using roadkill -- perhaps a possum, raccoon or armadillo -- in hopes of capturing the creature.

"It's a 50-50 chance I'm going to get this thing, due to the fact of the terrain that's out there. There's a lot of woods. There's a lot of power lines," Dean said.

"Parents are concerned because school will be starting. And they want this thing caught, like, yesterday," he added. "They're concerned that it's going to attack children, which it will not."
Native to South America, tegus can grow up to 4 feet in length. The invasive species has established breeding populations in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough counties, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported.

Tegus live in underground burrows and typically eat fruit, vegetables, eggs, insects, cat or dog food and small critters like lizards and rodents, according to an FWC tegu brochure.
"While a tegu is not likely to be innately aggressive, it will defend itself if aggravated or threatened. Tegus have sharp teeth, strong jaws and sharp claws, which they will use to defend themselves," the brochure states.

Dean speculated the Palm Bay tegu is an exotic pet that may have escaped from a screened porch. Or, he said the lizard could have been intentionally released into the wild.

To report a tegu sighting, call the FWC exotic species hotline at 888-IVE-GOT1 (888-483-4681) or visit Agency officials ask witnesses to photograph the tegu, if possible.

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