Gov. Rick Scott signs bill to target invasive species, like tegu lizard

Tegu spotted Tuesday in southwest Miami-Dade

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – There has been a spike in the population of tegu lizards found in South Florida, leading Gov. Rick Scott to sign a bill this week targeting them and other non-native species, like Burmese pythons and lionfish.

The tegu lizard is native to South America, but its population has been growing in South Florida since they were first spotted here nearly a decade ago.  

The lizards are invasive, not native to South Florida and can even chomp on people's small pets.

Tegu lizards are large-bodied, stocky and black and white.

They're powerful predators and can grow up to 4 feet long. 

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel found a tegu Tuesday along Southwest 207th Avenue.

The lizards may appear harmless, but they pose a major threat to the native wildlife.

Wildlife experts said the tegu lizard likes to eat eggs, which creates a concern for birds, turtles, alligators and crocodiles. 

South Florida's endangered and protected animals could also be wiped out due to the tegu's feeding frenzy, experts say. 

Tegus have also been found in Central Florida. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers first spotted the lizards in the state back in 2009. 

They've been found in the Everglades, and are sometimes even dumped there, which is illegal. 

Experts say if you find one in your yard, do not get close. Call the FWC or a trapper.

About the Author:

Sanela Sabovic joined Local 10 News in September 2012 as an assignment editor and associate producer. In August 2015, she became a full-time reporter and fill-in traffic reporter. Sanela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a concentration in radio, television and film from DePaul University.