Large invasive lizards spotted in SWFL cause for concern to pet owners

Large lizards are posing a threat to SWFL pets. They’re called Argentine Black and White Tegu lizards and are known to prey upon other small animals.

“Oh my gosh, it kind of looks like a bearded dragon a little bit….” said Punta Gorda resident Allison Sorkness.

But it’s no dragon. 

“That looks dangerous…yeah I don’t know. I wouldn’t want that crawling around my house even if it’s eating the rodents. I wouldn’t want that close to home,” Sorkness said.

The FWC says these lizards are the newest invasive species spreading throughout Florida.

Most can be found in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties, but they’re slowly making their way to Charlotte County as well. 

FWC confirms three sightings of the large lizards near Washington Loop Road in the past year. The animals can grow up to 4.5 feet and officials say they’re worried the numbers are growing too quickly.

Tegu Lizards are cause for concern because they eat native species, alligator eggs, small rodents and could even scarf down small pets.

“I’m concerned because I have two dogs,” said Punta Gorda resident Madison Bane. 

And now neighbors are saying they’ll be on the lookout for the pesky critters.

“I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled,” Sorkness said.

If you spot a Tegu Lizard near you, FWC says don’t touch it. Instead, they want you to take a photo, record the location and call them.

Reporter:Kristi Gross
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