COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – New regulations have placed a ban on bringing non-native Argentine black and white tegus to South Carolina or reproducing them.
It will also require current tegu owners to register their reptiles with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
The invasive reptiles were discovered in parts of South Carolina and Georgia last year.
“Tegus are predatory lizards, and they have been known to eat a variety of native species, such as quail and gopher tortoises, which are an endangered species in South Carolina,” said Will Dillman, SCDNR assistant chief of wildlife. “These regulations are aimed at stopping the proliferation of tegus before they are able to establish and do real damage in our state.”
They say pet owners who currently have tegus will be required to register them with DNR by September 25th. After that point, no unregistered tegus may be possessed, and no tegus may be bought, sold, traded or brought into South Carolina.
Officials with SCDNR say tegus have been a popular reptile in the pet trade because of their large size, intelligence, docile nature and hardiness.
Dillman said because South Carolina provides the species with suitable habitat and climate, black and white tegus and their hybrids have been added to the state’s list of Restricted Non-Native Wildlife.