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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 is suitable for many invasive species across taxonomic groups. Due to the suitable climate, and other factors, Florida has the world’s largest number of established, non-indigenous reptile and amphibian species. Several species of reptile are of high concern, including:

  • Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae) - established in several locations throughout Florida and Georgia. These lizards are dietary generalists but are known to feed on eggs of ground-nesting animals. The establishment of black and white tegus is a concern for many threatened or endangered species in the Everglades National Park, such as the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis). 
  • Gold tegu (Tepinambis teguixin) are established in Florida and Georgia, and ecologically similar to the Argentine black and white tegu. 
  • Green iguana  (Iguana iguana) populations are established in Hawaii, Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The Red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) 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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