COLUMBIA, S.C (WCBD) — South Carolina wildlife officials are urging residents to keep an eye out for exotic pets that have escaped or been released across the state.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the agency has received close to 250 reports of sightings of at least 30 nonnative reptiles and amphibian species since 2013.
The most commonly reported species include Mediterannean house geckos, brown anoles, Cuban tree frogs, black and white tegu lizards, sulcatta tortoises, and ball pythons. But, there are also documented sightings of massive Burmese pythons, green iguanas, various monitor lizard species, and two crocodilian species.
Owning an exotic animal is not banned under South Carolina law, however, it is illegal for a person to release nonnative species that pose a “demonstrable deleterious and widespread threat to wildlife, agriculture, or human health and safety” or have the potential to become a “nuisance.”
Different municipalities throughout the state regulate the ownership of exotic pets through special permitting and SCDNR urges pet owners to ensure they meet the requirements of specific species.
The following steps should be taken if someone sees a reptile or amphibian that does not belong, according to SCDNR:
- Try to take a picture (even a blurry one)
- Record your location (address, GPS points, pin on a map, etc.)
- Report the sighting to email@example.com
Sightings of black and white tegu lizards specifically should be reported here.