Clarke County

GA homeowner shocked after neighborhood kids tell her about ‘giant lizard’ found under home

ATHENS, Ga. — The Department of Natural Resources is using an incident of a giant lizard found underneath an Athens home to remind people that there are new laws in place requiring owners to tag and register six newly regulated reptile species.

DNR said that an Argentine black and white tegu was captured last month in the Classic City.

The homeowner said she was unaware that the lizard was there until children in the neighborhood told her that a “giant lizard” was in her yard.

DNR captured the tegu and no one has claimed it. It is unclear if it escaped or was released into the wild – which is illegal.

“This is definitely an example of why we need to regulate these species,” said Dr. Brett Albanese of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “They can be difficult to keep and as they grow their owners may not want to care for them or be able to afford to.”


“The Argentine black and white tegu is a South American reptile popular in the pet trade. Yet through escapes and releases, these lizards that can reach 4 feet long have established populations in the wild in Florida and one in southeast Georgia,” DNR said in a news release.

DNR is using this case as a reminder that some reptile owners need to tag and register their pets.

“Since last December, Nile monitors, African helmeted turtles, Chinese softshell turtles, Argentine black and white tegus, and Indian rock and Burmese pythons have been listed as wild animals in Georgia. The grace period for pet owners to tag their animals with a passive integrated transponder tag and then register them with DNR ends at midnight Dec. 3. DNR advises using a veterinarian to inject PIT tags,” DNR said.

“Pet owners need to schedule with their vet as soon as possible,” Albanese said.

For more information about the new tagging rules, CLICK HERE.