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.
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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!