Argentine Black and White Tegu in South Carolina

Argentine black and white adult tegu

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 Tegus and their hybrids to be reproduced or brought into South Carolina, and 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 may be possessed and no Tegu may be bought, sold or transferred. As of July 1, 2021, owners who do not wish to register their tegus may voluntarily surrender their animals to SCDNR. For more information about the registration process, the voluntary surrender program, and specific information regarding the new regulations, please see the Additional Resources links and Frequently Asked Questions below.

Additional Resources

Tegu Frequently Asked Questions

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What is this regulation?

How does the new regulation affect me and my Black and White Tegu?

Why was this regulation created?

How long do I have to register my Black and White Tegu?

How do I register my Tegu?

Will my permit expire?

Can I transfer my permit?

What do I need to do if my Black and White Tegu is removed from the state, dies or escapes?

Will registering my Tegu cost me anything?

How do I get my Tegu microchipped?

What is the penalty if I don’t register my Tegu by September 25, 2021?

What should I do if I see a Tegu in the wild?

SCDNR Herpetology

Ph: (803) 734-3886