The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting events to help tegu and green iguana owners get their pets microchipped before July 28. After that date, owners would be breaking the law if their reptiles aren’t chipped and registered with the FWC.
The events, dubbed ‘Tag Your Reptile Day,’ will be held in Fort Walton Beach, Melbourne, Gainesville, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Lee County. There, tegu and green iguana owners can get their pets microchipped for free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Staff will hand out a card with the animal’s tag number on it. That information is needed for owners to register for a no-cost permit. The chip and the permit are necessary for owners to keep their tegus and green iguanas now that the reptiles are on the prohibited species list. The move came as an attempt to stop pet tegus and green iguanas from being released or escaping into the wild. FWC’s Jan Fore says creatures like the green iguana cause damage to infrastructures like roadways, sea walls, and sidewalks.
“They are exceptional burrowing animals. So that means as they dig, they can destroy the foundations of these structures and cause severe damage. There are several counties that have spent loads of money trying to repair the damage from this particular species,” Fore says.
As for tegus, the FWC spends nearly a million dollars a year managing the critters. And as of 2012, 10,000 tegus have been removed from Florida’s wilderness.
“They are known egg predators, among other things. So, they will target nests of any ground-nesting species. So, think birds, think alligators and more,” Fore says.
Fore says tegus have also been known to go after gopher tortoise eggs, a threatened species.
To learn more about the ‘Tag Your Reptile Day’ events, click here.