Argentine Black and White Tegu in South Carolina
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has implemented recently passed legislation that prohibits the release of wildlife that is not native to South Carolina and that allows the agency to promulgate regulations to prohibit or restrict certain species of nonnative wildlife that has the potential to become established and become a nuisance and/or demonstrate a threat to wildlife, agriculture or human health.
The Argentine Black and White Tegu (Salvator meriane) is one of many species of Tegu but is the largest and is a predatory omnivorous lizard that occurs widely in South America in a variety of habitats and climates. This species has gained popularity in the pet trade, in part, due to its large size, intelligence, docility and hardiness.
This species has been introduced and established in multiple areas outside of its native range, including Florida and Georgia. This species has recently been documented in numerous counties in South Carolina, and as the invasive potential of this species has been recognized, both Florida and Alabama have enacted restrictions for this and other Tegu species. Because South Carolina provides the species a suitable habitat and climate, Black and White Tegus, and their hybrids, have been added to the list of Restricted Nonnative Wildlife.
The new regulations, enacted on May 28, 2021, prohibit reproduction of Black and White Tegus and their hybrids and transport into South Carolina. Regulations require owners to register their Black and White Tegus and hybrids with SCDNR by September 25, 2021. After this date, no unregistered Black and White Tegu, or hybrid, may be possessed and none may be bought, sold or transferred.
Full language can be found in the Rules and Regulations, Article 5, Chapter 123.152.
- Deadline approaching to register Black and White Tegus
- New regulations will ban tegus, require current owners to register reptiles
Tegu Frequently Asked Questions
This regulation makes it unlawful for any person or entity to possess, sell, offer for sale, transfer possession of, import, bring, release, reproduce, allow to escape, or cause to be brought or imported into the state of South Carolina, unless authorized by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
This regulation requires all owners of Black and White Tegus to register them. The regulation also requires that Black and White Tegus be kept indoors in escape proof enclosures or if kept outdoors to be in locked enclosures with primary and secondary containment barriers, each sufficient to prevent escape, and reviewed by SCDNR.
This regulation was created because South Carolina provides suitable habitat and climate for this species. Tegus compete, and in some cases outcompete, native species for resources. They have been documented to eat a variety of native species like quail, gopher tortoise, a South Carolina endangered species, insects, mammals, other reptiles, amphibians, birds and eggs of various birds and reptiles. Additionally, Tegus may harbor and spread nonindigenous parasites and/or pathogens to our native wildlife species.
Yes, permits for registered Black and White Tegus will expire after three years. Owners will need to renew their permit within 30 days of expiration.
Permits cannot be transferred.
If Black and White Tegus are removed from South Carolina or die, the possession permit becomes void and must be surrendered to SCDNR within five days. Escaped or missing Black and White Tegus must be reported to SCDNR within 24 hours.
Violation of this regulation may result in fines of up to $2500 and/or 1 year in jail per animal.
Please report the sighting by completing the reporting form.
SCDNR HerpetologyPh: (803) 734-3886