Lizards the size of small dogs are spreading across southeastern U.S., biologists find

These lizards will eat just about anything and they’re spreading to multiple states.
A group of teenagers from Miami Lighthouse for the Blind touch an Argentine black and white...
A group of teenagers from Miami Lighthouse for the Blind touch an Argentine black and white tegu during a tour of Miami Seaquarium, Wednesday, July 25, 2018, in Miami. The visually impaired teens were able to touch and interact with a sea lion, stingray, a dolphin and creatures in the park's new touch pools. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(Wilfredo Lee | AP)
Updated: Dec. 30, 2020 at 10:17 AM CST
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(WAFB) - After taking over the Florida Everglades, an invasive lizard that can grow up to four feet long is popping up as far away as Texas and South Carolina.

National Geographic says the Argentine black-and-white tegu has already proliferated widely throughout South Florida, but now poses a potential threat to native species and farmers throughout the southeastern United States.

Biologists say the lizard, native to South America, is omnivorous and eats pretty much anything with nutritional value they can fit in their mouth, including the eggs of ground-nesting animals such as birds, small animals, and low-hanging fruit.

Once the species becomes established in a new area, experts say the spread is difficult to control or reduce.

The tegus, docile and intelligent, have been breeding in South Florida for more than a decade and have only recently spread to Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, either by escaping captivity or being released by pet owners.

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