This Dog-Sized, Omnivorous Lizard is Invading Louisiana
"You know what Louisiana needs? Another veraciously omnivorous invasive species!" Said no-one the Sportsman's Paradise ever. I think we've had our fill of invasive species like the Feral Hog, Nutria, Formosa Termite, and honestly this list goes on for a while. Lucky us! Looks like we get to add another foreign and destructive name to that list - the Argentinian Black-and White Tegu.
According to biologists, this large-ish South American reptile has been working its way across the southern part of the United States - and, that is not good for our flora or our fauna. According to a 2018 report from the United States Geological Survey (this organization keeps tabs on all things nature from water flow to animal migration in the U.S.), these animals are on course to spread like wildfire across the southeastern portion of out country - and that's a potential biological catastrophe.
Omnivores like the Tegu and the Feral Hog will eat anything. Plants, animals, eggs, and even dirt in some extreme cases are on the menu just to keep these garbage disposals alive. Entire animal populations, especially ones with nests on the ground like the American Alligator, are in danger if they happen to be in the path of this scaly eating machine.
The research puts the blame squarely on breeders in the U.S., especially in Florida. Much like the tale of Burmese Python and Yellow Anaconda, these reptiles were kept as pets and bred for sale by the thousands. Whether they were released on purpose or they escaped, now they are in the wild. After increasing their numbers in the wild parts of state (including the Everglades), the Tegu nation is now pushing westward.
According to National Geographic, this reptilian horde is spreading rapidly. Tegus have been spotted in North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas this year. Along with the established wild population in Florida, these new sightings confirm these lizards are on the move.