for today im going to post 4 lizards due to one being seperate but as its the only one in its classification its gonna be added here
lfirst up is the tegu, the aforementioned lonely lizard, aka the triclops as my joke name implies tegu actually have 3 eyes instead of 2, the third being mostly a light sensing organ on top of their heads, these lizards, while in the high classification of lizard are the only family in their low classification becoming what is known as a "living fossil"
second up is the flying gecko, aka the scaly missile bitch, these geckos as their name implies can glide using a membrane between their legs as a wing and their hands and tails to direct themselves
third is the gila monster, aka discount godzilla, these are one of few venomous lizards (though most lizards use pure filth as a venom I count it) these lizards live in the American deserts (specifically the Mohave desert near and in Arizona)
lastly we come to Komodo dragons aka modern dinosaurs, these lizards live in the Komodo islands they get their names from and have a surprisingly fast run, topping out at 12 mile per hour, and will track you over the entire island they call home.
The first behaviour I ever taught Kaiju was word recognition- specifically her name. It's a behaviour I still work on and reward with her. Any time she alerts at the word "Kaiju," and I have a treat handy, I let her have it. Even if the word... is on the tv.
Result: I've accidentally conditioned my lizard to have a favorite movie.
One of the things I've missed the most during the pandemic is educational outreach. The herp society hasn't had any in person meetings or special events. Today at the park, we were approached by a small herd of curious children. Once their moms gave the go-ahead, they got to pet and interact with Kaiju, and she seemed to really enjoy it. She did her tongue flicks on command, pushed her head into their hands when they stroked her, and was more than happy to follow them as they walked. No agitation whatsoever. Kaiju has always been extremely good with kids since I first started doing educational stuff with her, and I think maybe, just maybe, she's missed doing outreach too.
Jade loves the ☀️ and wanted to wish you a Happy Easter, too! 💛 @scalyadventures #scalyadventures #jade #argentineblackandwhitetegu #tegu #scalyfriends https://www.instagram.com/p/CNQdll0gPfy/?igshid=2lh7acqss7c1
When people ask why states without tegus are looking to ban them? This. This is why. They are unstoppable. They’re incredibly adaptable. In addition to being able to survive winter conditions almost a thousand miles north of their northernmost invasive range, they can also elevate their body temperatures to deal with cooler non-winter conditions. This defies what we know about pretty much every other lizard, and they can just... do it. Because they’re amazing.
But that amazingness comes with a price. Here in the US, we’ve finally woken up to the reality that this is an invasive species with potential to really spread, and several state governments are scrambling to ensure that it doesn’t happen. Most legislation intends to just ban keeping the animals in states where they could establish or already are established, but the problem is that much of this current/future legislation regarding tegus is really insufficient. It either doesn’t do enough or it does way too much and either way doesn’t actually do anything meaningful to prevent the spread of this invasive species. But people thinking they have some kind of constitutional right to keep as many tegus as they want isn’t helping. If I have to see one more person spouting anti-gun control rhetoric about a lizard, so help me god I will scream. I will.
Honestly though, I think that the state bans are only going to continue. I’m not foolish enough to think that any of the state governments are doing this out of a pure concern for the states’ biodiversity. Aside from what tegus can and will do to endangered species (eat them. they will eat them.), there is a serious bottom line economic consequence to their spread. There’s plenty of evidence that these guys are a serious threat to agriculture, and the exotic pet industry isn’t comparatively big enough for any government to take seriously if the farmers are complaining. Which they will. You know what they call tegus in Venezuela? El lobo pollero, the chicken wolf. They are just that good at sneaking into chicken coops and going for the eggs. They cooperate to do this. And at the end of the day, exotic pet owners’ privileges will be sacrificed for economic protection for US agricultural interests, because that’s how the economy works.
Which is a shame because I do think there is a viable compromise. Perhaps something like this could actually work:
1: Establish FDA licensing for tegu breeders, the same as you have to do if you breed several other exotic species. Licensing would need to include enforceable containment policies and state inspections.
2: Mandate PIT tagging or microchipping for pet tegu owners and enforce legal penalties if there are escapes. This could range from a fine to being disallowed to own a tegu.
3: Figure out a more practical way to do culls of the invasive populations. (This is going to be very hard in the Everglades due to the impassibility of much of the area, but in places with sparser vegetation, tracker dogs trained on the eggs/nests could probably help a great deal with this.)
4: Stop mass imports.
The imports are a huge problem. I think they’re actually a much bigger problem than the breeders for two reasons. First, the sheer numbers of imports is a problem. Between 2000 and 2010, more than 79,000 tegus were imported to the US. That’s a lot. We already know that the first and largest invasive tegu population can be traced back to a single importer. We already know that the invasive pythons can be traced back to an importers’ warehouse that was damaged in a hurricane. Limit the market to breeders who are willing to go a step beyond for good containment, and you limit the number of animals being produced. This also limits the number of people who can buy them. If cheap imported reptiles aren’t readily available, you’ll have fewer people impulsively buying them and then releasing them when they get too big or too much trouble. Ban the imports and you solve part of the problem. Now, granted, pet owners releasing their animals isn’t really a huge issue. Most released pets die pretty quickly. But even though it’s not the biggest part of the issue, it is still an issue.
Ideally, tegu owners would be educated enough to buy only from good breeders with good biosecurity practices, take one out of the swamp, or take in a rescue. Ideally, tegu breeders would be more sensible about protecting their businesses by complying with state FWS standards and by taking a more proactive approach to containment. Tegus are burrowers and escape artists, and if tegu breeders who do outside housing would keep that in mind more seriously, there ARE things they could do to actually prevent escapes on their end- things like you do for wild canids. It might be more difficult to sink a fence a few feet or lay a concrete pad, but is it worth it to protect your ability to breed and keep a species you love?
At the end of the day, a lot of exotic animal laws in the US don’t make a lot of sense. They often come too late to actually prevent a tragedy or ecological disaster, and they rarely do enough to prohibit actual irresponsible behavior. We have hard scientific data that demonstrates that tegus really could become invasive throughout much of the southeast US, and with climate change pushing tropical and subtropical climatological zones north, their potential range is only going to get larger.
Argentine Black and White Tegu, Zoo Miami, Miami, Florida
Salvator merianae is an omnivorous species which inhabits the tropical rain forests, savannas, and semi-deserts of eastern and central South America. They are notable for their unusually high intelligence and can also be house-broken. A tegu can drop a section of its tail as a distraction if attacked. The tail is also used as a weapon to swipe at an aggressor; even a half-hearted swipe can leave a bruise. Tegus are capable of running at high speeds and can run bipedally for short distances. Males can grow up to 4.5 ft long and weigh up to 15.4 lbs. (x)