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Brumation of introduced Black and White Tegus, Tupinambis merianae (Squamata: Teiidae), in southern Florida

January 1, 2016

An established population of Tupinambis merianae (Black and White Tegu) in southeastern Florida threatens the Everglades ecosystem. Understanding the behavioral ecology of Black and White Tegus could aid in management and control plans. Black and White Tegus are seasonally active and brumate during the winter in their native range, but brumation behavior is largely unstudied in either the native or the invasive range. We describe the first observations of Black and White Tegu brumation in southeastern Florida after monitoring 5 free-ranging, adult male Black and White Tegus through an inactive season using radiotelemetry and automated cameras. Duration of brumation averaged 137 days, beginning in September and ending by February. One of the 5 Black and White Tegus emerged to bask regularly during brumation, which to our knowledge represents the first documented instance of a free-ranging Black and White Tegu basking during brumation. These preliminary findings provide a basis for future research of brumation behavior.