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Are there invasive reptiles other than Burmese pythons in the United States that people should be concerned about?

Free-ranging, non-native reptiles representing dozens of species from around the world escape or are illegally released in the United States every year. Many of these species fail to establish reproductive populations, but some are successful.

Florida is a major transportation hub and has a climate that’s suitable for many invasive species, so the state has the world’s largest number of established, non-indigenous reptile and amphibian species (3 frogs, 4 turtles, 1 crocodilian, 43 lizards, and 5 snakes). Several species of special concern threaten native plants and/or animals:

  • Argentine black and white tegu and gold tegu are established in Florida and Georgia. Red tegu has been found in Florida. Tegus have also been found in South Carolina and Alabama. Large portions of the U.S. have suitable habitat for tegu lizards.

  • Green iguana  populations are established in Hawaii, Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • The red-eared slider turtle was introduced to western states from its native range in the eastern U.S. 

Disposal or release of non-native animals into the wild can do great environmental harm. Unwanted animals should be safely rehomed or presented to a Fish and Wildlife agency.

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