After appearing in Florida and Georgia, the invasive black and white tegu has been confirmed for the first time in South Carolina. The state Department of Natural Resources says a 2 ½ foot female tegu was captured in Lexington County. Although it’s the first confirmed sighting of the South American lizard in the state, the SCDNR says it has received reports in Lexington and Aiken counties for months.
“The introduction of any nonnative species can have serious negative impacts on native wildlife. Black and white tegus are no exception,” said SCDNR herpetologist Andrew Grosse. “Tegus mature and reproduce quickly, though most concerning may be their preference for eggs and the potential impacts to our native ground-nesting birds like turkey and quail, as well as other species such as the state-endangered gopher tortoise.”
Black and white tegus (Salvator merianae) are believed to have entered the region through the pet trade.