What are Tegus?
Salvator merianae is native to South America. Argentine black and white tegu, brought in through the pet trade, have been intentionally released or escaped enclosures.
Known breeding populations of Argentine black and white tegu are found in Florida and Georgia counties of Toombs and Tattnall. Other reports are believed to isolated occasions of escaped or released pets and are not related to successful breeding populations.
With support from USGS and DNR, Georgia Southern is trapping tegus and following up on local sightings. DNR is also investigating occasional reports of tegus elsewhere in Georgia. Georgia DNR has classified S. merianae as a Wild Animal, and now requires a permit to possess this species in captivity. It is now illegal to breed or sell tegus in Georgia. All individuals in captivity before December 2023 are grandfathered in, and do not require a permit but they must have been chipped and reported to GA DNR before December 2023.