Invasive tegu lizards showing up on Suncoast

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Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:33 am

SARASOTA, Fla. -- In Feburary we told you about the exotic tegu lizard that has been breeding in Hillsborough County and spreading south. Now there have been several confirmed sightings in Sarasota County, and one that has been terrorizing a Sarasota neighborhood has finally been caught.

Billy Baden trapped an Argentine black and white tegu that was terrorizing his neighbors in the Sherwood Forrest subdivision off Bahia Vista Street.

“I was after him for a month. I was probably chasing him for a month,” Baden told ABC 7.

“The girls wouldn't go outside into the yard, wouldn't walk the dogs.”

“I was really freaked out,” said his wife Nikki. “I didn't want to be outside with the kids and the dog.” That may have been a smart decision since she said the reptile showed a lot of interest in the families small Yorkshire Terrier.

“It was up in the door at the glass window pane, dogs on one side, he's on the other. Put the dog on the lanai, the lizards up at the screen so he is definitely after the dog,” said Nikki.

About two blocks from the Baden home, Carrie Miles said her golden retriever Raining, found the exotic lizard in her backyard.

“It was right underneath and it was black with a little bit of white. Basically I just yelled at her, said Miles. “Whatever it was it wasn't something she should mess with and as soon as we moved away it slithered back that direction,” she said pointing towards the front yard.

Billy Baden was finally caught the tegu last Saturday in his back yard in a trap baited with eggs.

“That thing ate a lot of stuff in the neighborhood. I am pretty sure it ate my friends cat,” he said.

Tegus have established breeding populations in Miami-Dade, Polk and Hillsborough Counties. They are omnivores and can grow up to four feet long.

If you see a tegu, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission want you to take a picture, note the location and call their exotic species hotline at 1-888-I've Got1 (1-888-483-4681)

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