Exotic lizards causing problems

LITHIA, Fla. - Large lizards are taking over parts of Hillsborough County, Fla. They are from South America, but they are making southwest Florida their new home.

A local horse rescue has made some long, low-lying enemies.

"We can't have lizards out here scaring these horses," said Marvel Stewart, a rescue volunteer.

Stewart has had many encounters with an invasive species called tegus.

"There were two tegus there just standing there in the middle of the day time and they look over at me and they like laughed at me like there is nothing you can do," he said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife say the large tegus are breeding quickly laying 25 to 50 eggs at a time. It's humans causing the problem. People purchasing them as pets legally then when they get too big, up to four feet, they release them into the wild.

"There is probably four or five in our yard a week," said Stewart.

They have been spotted more than 100 times between Riverview and Gibsonton around homes and in the preserves. They're omnivorous, eating plants and animals destroying ecosystems and other wildlife.

"We had a whole gopher turtle preserve on that 1,100 acres, and it is gone now," said Stewart.

Tegus like to borrow underneath sheds like this one. The problem is they are not welcome and people are going to the extreme to get rid of them.

"What we do when we see them is we kill them," said Stewart.

Neighbors WTSP talked with are shooting them in their yards. Now the FWC has 28 traps in the wild, and dozens more on private property, hoping to stop them from breeding.


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