South Carolina Bans Keeping Of Tegu Lizards
The state's first documented capture of a tegu in the wild occurred in August 2020.
South Carolina has banned the importation of Argentine black and white tegus (Salvator meriane)and their hybrids into the state, and breeding of the species has also been banned. Current owners of the lizard must register and microchip their pets by September 25, 2021. After the Sept. 25 deadline, unregistered black and white tegus cannot be possessed, and no tegu can be bought, sold or transferred.
These reptiles are popular with reptile keepers, yet they have been showing up lately in the wild in the southern United States. They are established in Florida and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources believes the reptile has become established in Georgia’s eastern Toombs and western Tattnall counties.
“This species has been introduced and established in multiple areas outside of its native range, including Florida and Georgia, and has recently been documented in numerous counties in South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said in a post on its Facebook page. “The invasive potential of this species has been recognized, both Florida and Alabama have enacted restrictions for this and other Tegu species. Because South Carolina provides the species a suitable habitat and climate, Black and White Tegus, and their hybrids, have been added to the list of Restricted nonnative Wildlife.”
The state documented its first black and white tegu in the wild, an adult female, in August 2020.
Black and White Tegu Information
The Argentine black and white tegu is popular with expert reptile keepers. They are not for beginners. These omnivorous lizards grow about 2.5 to 4 feet in length and can live up to 20 years. They are native to Central and South America and sort of look like monitor lizards. Although not overly aggressive, tegus do have sharp teeth and strong jaws and claws. They are omnivores and eat all kinds of eggs, pet food, small mammals, insects, other reptiles, amphibians, and birds.