Images: Exotic Lizards Pop Out of the Ground in Florida
Tegu In Florida
This South American lizard called a tegu was captured in Florida after it was abandoned by an exotic pet dealer.
Jake Edwards, an exotic wildlife technician for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), sets a trap for tegus.
Lizards On The Loose
FWC Investigator Jerry Shores handles a four-foot tegu captured in Panama City, Fla. As of April 30, 2013, FWC officials had recovered 34 live tegus in the area and several dead ones; more are feared to be on the loose.
Wildlife officials think a pet dealer left the lizards in a yard in Panama City, Fla. The tegus emerged this spring after spending the winter in dens that had been dug into the ground.
The lizards, which grow up to 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 meters) in length and can weigh up to 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms), are native to South America and are considered an invasive species in Florida.
This black and white tegu was kept as a pet and turned in during one of the state's Exotic Pet Amnesty Days, which allows owners to give up their unwanted animal for adoption with no penalty. Officials don't want nonnative animals like tegus let loose in the wild where they could establish breeding populations and compete for resources with Florida's native species.
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By Harry Baker
By Kiley Price