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South Carolina Bans Invasive Tegu Lizards

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
South Carolina is banning invasive Argentine tegu lizards.

The Argentine black and white tegu is no longer welcome in South Carolina. The lizards have been found in several counties, and now a new state regulation bans them from being brought into South Carolina. Tegu owners also can no longer breed them.

“Tegus have gained popularity in the pet trade,” the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said in a statement, “due to their large size, intelligence, docile nature and hardiness.”

The popular lizard can grow up to four feet and weigh 10 pounds. The Department of Natural Resources says tegus eat a variety of native species, such as the endangered quail and gopher tortoises.

“Tegus are predatory lizards, and they have been known to eat a variety of native species,” said Will Dillman, the department's assistant chief of wildlife. “These regulations are aimed at stopping the proliferation of tegus before they are able to establish and do real damage in our state,”

Owners of tegus are required to register them with the state by Sept. 25.

South Carolina joins Florida and Alabama in banning the reptiles. Read more about Tegu rules in South Carolina here.

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Catherine Welch is Assistant News Director at WFAE. She has led newsrooms at KUNC in Greely, CO, Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence, RI and WHQR in Wilmington, NC.