Lizard invasion spreads to Polk County

Lizard invasion spreads to Polk County

Posted: Updated:
WINTER HAVEN, FL (WFLA) -

A couple in Winter Haven saw what they thought was a crocodile near their home. It turned out to be a tegu lizard.

Jim and Barbara Walter said the reptile was in their backyard porch. Jim Walters says, "He's about three foot long because the picture I got has got him sticking out of the hole and his back feet are sticking out of the hole and his tail is sticking out past that yet."

Walter says when he first saw the creature he thought it was a crocodile.

After he took the picture, he went to experts to confirm what it is.

"I took the pictures and went to Florida Fish and Wildlife and talked to those people down there. The first thing they told me is it's a Tegu and he's from Argentina and he must have been somebody's pet and they let him go.

Tegus usually grow to be about four feet and weigh 15 pounds. This invasive species exists in small populations in Florida. It originally comes from South America.

Walter is worried about the impact the giant lizard is having on the gopher tortoise population behind his home.

About 439 black and white tegus have been spotted in the state, according to Early Detection and Distribution Mapping system website. Most of the sightings were around Tampa and Miami.

People buy tegu lizards as pets in Florida. If the lizards run away and adapt in the wilderness, they threaten the local ecosystems because they will eat virtually anything.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission urges everybody to report the sightings of the tegus. You can do it by calling 1-888-IVE-GOT1 or loggin in www.ivegot1.org

CONNECT WITH US ON TWITTER. WE'RE @WFLATAMPA.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Woman says she bought tainted Hostess donettes at Sarasota gas station

    Woman says she bought tainted Hostess donettes at Sarasota gas station

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:33 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:33:29 GMT
    Everyone loves a good donut. But not the ones Jena Slinkard bought Thursday night at gas station in Sarasota. She just wanted a yummy, powdered donut late at night. So she bought a few packs, but when she bit into her normal favorite, Hostess Donettes, she spit it right out.More >>
    Everyone loves a good donut. But not the ones Jena Slinkard bought Thursday night at gas station in Sarasota. She just wanted a yummy, powdered donut late at night. So she bought a few packs, but when she bit into her normal favorite, Hostess Donettes, she spit it right out.More >>
  • Back-to-School Tax-free Holiday is here

    Back-to-School Tax-free Holiday is here

    Friday, August 1 2014 11:37 AM EDT2014-08-01 15:37:09 GMT
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.More >>
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.More >>
  • Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:10 PM EDT2014-07-31 22:10:55 GMT
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.More >>
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
    More >>
  • NewsMore>>

  • Body found near Polk search area for missing girl

    Body found near Polk search area for missing girl

    Friday, August 1 2014 9:53 PM EDT2014-08-02 01:53:38 GMT
    Alexandria Chery, 16, of OrlandoAlexandria Chery, 16, of Orlando
    A decomposed body has been found near the search area for a missing 16-year-old Orange County girl.More >>
    A decomposed body has been found near the search area for a missing 16-year-old Orange County girl.More >>
  • Tampa attorney says taking cover a part of life in Israel

    Tampa attorney says taking cover a part of life in Israel

    Friday, August 1 2014 8:56 PM EDT2014-08-02 00:56:30 GMT
    Today in Tampa, young and old, Christians and Jews gathered in Lykes Gaslight Square Park. About 200 of them showed their solidarity and support for Israel in its latest ongoing bloody battle with Hamas. One bay area man watched some of that battle up close. Tampa attorney Mark Wright watched the war unfold on television. Wright is Jewish-American, has friends in Israel and traveled to the Jewish state several times. He said he felt the need to go, to help....More >>
    Today in Tampa, young and old, Christians and Jews gathered in Lykes Gaslight Square Park. About 200 of them showed their solidarity and support for Israel in its latest ongoing bloody battle with Hamas. One bay area man watched some of that battle up close. Tampa attorney Mark Wright watched the war unfold on television. Wright is Jewish-American, has friends in Israel and traveled to the Jewish state several times. He said he felt the need to go, to help....More >>
  • No love for Lyft in the Tampa Bay area?

    No love for Lyft in the Tampa Bay area?

    Friday, August 1 2014 7:36 PM EDT2014-08-01 23:36:29 GMT
    Kevin Ludig feels like a rock star – he loves his job at Lyft that much.“You know I keep telling people I feel like a rock star because everyone keeps talking about what I do,” joked Kevin in his sleek Mercury MKS Hybrid. “I love this job.”Kevin uses his life at Lyft as a supplement to his work in solar panel sales.More >>
    Kevin Ludig feels like a rock star – he loves his job at Lyft that much.“You know I keep telling people I feel like a rock star because everyone keeps talking about what I do,” joked Kevin in his sleek Mercury MKS Hybrid. “I love this job.”Kevin uses his life at Lyft as a supplement to his work in solar panel sales. More >>
Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.