This one is tame–I think.
Those scary stories about alligators living in our city sewers turned out to be an urban legend. But here’s something almost as bad that’s definitely not a legend.
Wild colonies of South American tegu lizards have established themselves in Florida and are doing well enough to threaten to “march across the South” as far as the Carolinas and Texas, wildlife experts say (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lizards/invasion-of-big-voracious-lizards-threatens-u-s-south-study-idUSKBN1KO1AF).
How did that happen? People acquire the tegus as pets, get tired of them, and let them go.
Tegus are heavy, muscular lizards with big heads and strong jaws, and they can grow to be four feet long. In Florida they’re eating alligator and bird eggs, any small animals they can catch, and fruit. As tegu owners already know, tegus are not picky eaters. They’ll scarf down practically anything; and getting bitten by a large tegu would feet like getting your hand caught in a car door. Trust me, I know. My savannah monitor (you could easily mistake it for a tegu) nailed me once, and you should’ve heard me howl. And that was just a warning bite, as in “No more medicine, you putz!” If she’d meant business, it would’ve gone hard with me.
There’s nothing wrong, I’d say, with having a tegu for a pet; but it’s very wrong to release one into the wild. Can’t we be decent to our animals? Acquiring a pet of any kind ought to be a loving commitment for as long as the animal lives.
I had to part with my monitor. I had to medicate her, the treatment was successful, but she hated it and it left her with a deep grudge against me. Eventually I found a man, affiliated with the Staten Island Zoo, who had remodeled his home to house his collection of really cool reptiles, and he was happy to adopt Spot. If a monitor lizard could purr, she would have purred when I handed her over to her new owner. Made me feel about two inches tall, but I’m sure I did the right thing.
If you’re not going to keep and love your pet, you shouldn’t have it in the first place.
Meanwhile, the tegus are coming, the tegus are coming…