My last update on the Argentine black and white tegu front was back in May 2018, where I talked about the different tegu species that have been introduced into Florida. For this update I am going to be talking about removal efforts that I am involved in directly as part of my work and school thesis.
The Argentine black and white tegu is a large lizard native to South America – specifically Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. These lizards can reach up to four feet in length, spend most of their time on land, but can swim and remain submerged for long periods. These critters are intelligent, and when kept as house pets can be very attached to their owners and quite docile – making them wonderful pets. However, as the tegu grows very large it can become more work than their owners care to give, many owners and individuals who sell animals in the pet trade become irresponsible and release their Tegu into the wild. Occasionally, beloved pets are lost when not kept in a secure outdoor enclosure, not watched appropriately, or accidentally get loose and run away.
Currently there are removal efforts in place by several agencies including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, private trappers, and the University of Florida. Over the past fove years there have been several interagency tegu management meetings and workshops which helped to establish cohesive management objectives, plans of action and budgets, and research and resource gaps. Ideally, tegu removal will be as efficient as possible – increasing tegu removal while minimizing cost.
Trapping efforts by the University of Florida involve a trap line of 125- 150 live capture traps in a targeted area. These traps are deployed in February and are checked every day for new captures. The area being trapped is near two ecologically important areas – the Everglades National Park and the Turkey Point Power Plant – both which are home to very important and some imperiled species like the American Crocodile, which is threatened in its range. In 2018 University of Florida trapping efforts removed 360 tegus from the targeted area of trapping, and efforts are continuing in 2019. In addition to this effort there is currently a bill filed with the Florida senate that would ban ownership of Argentine black and white tegus (and sale) all together.
*All photos are from camera traps the University of Florida has set in south Florida to capture images of tegus in the wild.
We often get asked if ferrets make good pets. Our honest answer is that it depends what you are looking for in a pet. If you are looking for a simple, low maintenance pet that can be kept caged for most of the day, then then ferrets would be a poor match. Ferrets are more comparable to keeping a cat or a dog than keeping other small mammal pets. Like cats and dogs, ferrets require annual veterinary exams and rabies vaccines. While ferrets can be housed in a large cage, they require significant out of cage time for exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization. Ferrets may be a good match for individuals who are unable to have a cat or dog due to allergies, limitations with an apartment, or long work schedules. While ferrets are surprisingly tough, they tend to play more roughly which may not be suitable for families with young children. As a pet for older children, ferrets are more tolerant than other small pets that are typically advertised for children.
While it is not unheard of for a ferret to reach the age of 9 or 10, it is incredibly uncommon with most ferrets living between 5 and 7 years. Ferrets are prone to a variety of health issues which can be very expensive. We wrote about the veterinary cost for three of our oldest ferrets here: www.ferretsandfriends.org/blog/what-does-it-cost-ferret-health
Ferrets are incredibly mischievous. Creating a ferret-safe space for your ferrets to run around can be quite a challenge. Anywhere their skull can fit, they can fit. In our experience, we have ferrets that could fit under doors or cabinets. Certain types of furniture such as reclining chairs can be hazardous for a pet ferret. Ferrets can also cause a great deal of damage to furniture, carpeting, and other possessions. Even with their musk gland removed, ferrets still have their distinctive odor which is impossible to completely eliminate.
Like dogs and cats, ferrets can eat appropriate dry food or wet food that can be found in most pet stores. They should have access to food and water at all times. Ferrets have a very fast metabolism so their body may start breaking down fat reserves if they go more than four to six hours without eating. Ferrets tend to eat frequently throughout the day and night. This means that they may go to the bathroom more frequently. Many ferrets can be trained to use a litter box with some effort. For our ferrets, we use both puppy pee pads and litter boxes.
Animal Care Costs (2018 Prices): Setup
Animal Care Costs (2018 Prices): Annual Maintenance
About the blog
Ferrets and Friends, LLC has four writers bringing you information on a variety of topics from pets to wildlife, education to conservation, and from new developments in our business to information about our industry. Learn something new each week!