RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It is now illegal to buy, sell or release an Argentine Black and White Tegu lizard in North Carolina.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission voted for that back in February; the new law went into effect August 1.
Argentine Black and White Tegu lizards are an invasive species and could be very dangerous to the ecosystem in North Carolina. In Florida, the lizards are already spreading resulting in harmful effects for native species, according to a fact sheet from researchers at the University of Florida.
Tegus can grow up to 4 feet in length. They are omnivores who eat fruits, vegetables, eggs, insects and small animals. Because of their varied diet, they can cause many different environmental problems when introduced into new ecosystems.
Anyone in North Carolina who already owns a tegu can keep the animal but should apply for a permit with the Wildlife Commission.
Tegus have joined a list of restricted species in North Carolina that includes the African Clawed Frog, Brown Anole, Cuban Treefrog, Asian Newt, Red-eared Slider and Greenhouse Frog.
For more information about permits and regulations surrounding these restricted species, visit the Wildlife Commission website.