The Argentine tegu lizard doesn’t grow nearly as big as a Burmese python but it may be a greater threat to South Florida’s native animals.
At a maximum size of four feet, a tegu can’t gobble down a full-grown deer or alligator with its rapier-sharp teeth. But the invasive, black and white reptiles have the potential to cause even more ecological damage than the 18-foot snakes that have drawn international media attention in recent years. And now, scientists say, it’s too late to eradicate them.
As Mike Perez mingled with visitors at the recent Python Challenge awards event in Miami, his left arm supported the weight of a black-and-white lizard with a body as thick as a linebacker's bicep. Gazing through heavily hooded eyes, the lizard rarely moved, save for sticking out its forked tongue for an occasional sniff .