Looks like Hillsborough County is home to the latest invasive and unwanted species.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, there have been more than 100 sightings of tegu lizards around the Bay area. These black and white lizards are native to South America but likely got into an area south of Riverview when people keeping them as pets released them. Fears are that the tegus will compete for food with the lizards that are indigenous to Florida.
“They have a broad diet and consume fruits, seeds, insects, snails, as well as small vertebrates, including reptile and bird eggs,” said Steven Johnson of the University of Florida’s Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. “They are a particular threat to imperiled species such as gopher tortoises and scrub jays.”
Many tegus have been found in Miami-Dade County, and last year about 30 were rounded up in Panama City, where a breeder abandoned his stock and left them to breed in his yard.
They’re also very hard to catch. They’re quick as lightning. We may have a problem on our hands.