Large invasive lizard running rampant in Charlotte County

Right now, we have a huge invasive lizard problem. South American Tegus are running rampant in Charlotte County. Wildlife officials caught 60 in a three-mile stretch!

Our area is in such a high alert, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held a press conference.

Biologists come out every day to check on a trap, along with others in the area. Bushes and leaves hide the trap. The FWC hopes it will reduce the population in Charlotte County, especially as we approach mating season for these lizards.

Keri Dehart and her family raise livestock on their 12-acre property in Charlotte County. For years, she wondered why her weekly supply of 27 dozen chicken eggs dropped to two dozen.

The culprit was finally caught in the act. It was an Argentine black and white tegu, which are a sizeable non-native lizard known to prey upon native wildlife and some protected species.

“My son actually cornered one in the chicken coop its self,” Dehart said.

The FWC said it received 14 sightings in Charlotte County, capturing 60 Tegus since June. They were all in a three-mile stretch off Washington Loop Rd.

The government agency said there are no known Tegu attacks on humans or pets. But the lizards do have sharp teeth, claws and a strong jaw.

Daniel Quinn, a non-native fish and wildlife biologist for the FWC, said the lizards hide out on properties with shelter and food.

“Anything that will attract a dog, a cat, a pet will also attract a Tegu,” Quinn said.

After losing thousands of dollars in chicken egg supply to preying Tegus, she wants her neighbor and the rest of Charlotte County to stay alert to the lizard.

“Be aware of the Tegus,” Dehart said. “What they look like.”

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Here’s the link to notify the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to a Tegu.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Michael Mora
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