Illegal Tegu Lizard Found in Waianae

Posted on Feb 22, 2011 in 2011 News Releases, News-Releases

HONOLULU – A Waianae resident reported a dead lizard to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) after the family dogs apparently killed it on Friday night.  The foot-and-a-half long lizard has been identified as a tegu lizard (Tupinambis teguixin), which are illegal in Hawaii. The resident, who reported the lizard to officials on Saturday, said she heard her dogs barking Friday night and discovered the dead lizard.  She was asked to hold it for agriculture inspectors, who picked it up on Monday morning. It is not known how the lizard arrived in Hawaii. The lizard was identified by a herpetologist at the Bishop Museum and will remain in the museum’s collection

Tegu lizards are native to South America, but are found in the pet trade worldwide. They may grow up to four- to five-feet long and are a threat to ground-nesting birds and agricultural crops, as they may be a source of bacterial contamination of food crops. They are known to use their tails and claws as weapons and can deliver a nasty bite that may cause serious bacterial infections.

Individuals who see or have knowledge of illegal animals should call the State’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).  Those harboring illegal animals are encouraged to turn in the animals under the State’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.