Have you ever encountered one of these MASSIVE reptiles? PSA, it's not a Komodo Dragon, and it's also not a baby alligator (yes, we have heard it called both). Pictured here is a completely different type of reptile known as an Argentine Black and White Tegu. Argentine black and white tegus are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species due to their impacts to native wildlife. Potential impacts of tegus include competition with and preying upon Florida’s native wildlife, including some imperiled and protected species. Tegus prey upon the nests of other animals, and researchers have documented tegus eating American alligator eggs and disturbing American crocodile nests in Florida. Recent gut content analysis of tegus by the FWC revealed that they consume Threatened juvenile gopher tortoises and agriculturally valuable foods, highlighting the impact this species may have on sensitive wildlife and agricultural lands. Argentine black and white tegus are large lizards that can reach nearly five feet in length. They have a mottled black and white coloration that often is arranged into a banding pattern across the back and tail. Hatchlings display similar markings, but typically have bright green heads. The green coloration fades after they reach about one month of age. Tegu breeding in Florida begins in early spring. Female tegus reach reproductive maturity after their second year of brumation or when they are about 12 inches long from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. They lay an average of 35 eggs per year. Females construct nests of dried vegetation, often at the base of trees, in clumps of tall grass or in burrows. Eggs incubate for approximately 60 days and require stable temperatures for successful hatching. After hatching, juvenile tegus grow quickly. Tegus may live up to 20 years. Reproducing populations of Argentine black and white tegus are established in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade and Charlotte Counties. An emerging population was recently discovered in St. Lucie County after several confirmed reports were received through the FWC's Exotic Species Hotline. Managers and researchers believe these populations occurred through escapes or intentional captive animal or pet releases. If you find yourself having critter chaos, give our trappers a call right away! We are on call 24/7 at 305-255-7296 or 954-927-7296. Pesky Critters has highly trained trappers with live capture equipment to provide safe wildlife removals for the humans AND animals involved.
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