Title: Encounter with ‘Giant Lizard’ Underscores Importance of Tagging and Registering Pets in Georgia
A surprising incident involving the discovery of a 3-foot-long lizard hiding under a porch in Athens has shed light on the significance of new regulations in Georgia, which require pet owners to tag and register specific reptile species. With the registration deadline quickly approaching, pet owners are urged to take prompt action. Read on to understand the importance of these regulations and find answers to commonly asked questions.
Athens, Ga. – In Athens, a surprising encounter with a 3-foot-long lizard hiding under a porch highlighted the importance of new regulations in Georgia requiring pet owners to tag and register specific reptile species. With the registration deadline only a month away, pet owners are urged to act quickly.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Dr. Brett Albanese stresses the urgency, advising pet owners to schedule their vet visits as soon as possible to meet the upcoming December 3rd deadline.
Since last December, six reptile species have been designated as wild animals in Georgia, including the Nile monitor, the African helmeted turtle, the Chinese softshell turtle, the Argentine black and white tegus, and the Indian rock and Burmese pythons. A grace period for pet owners to attach passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags to their reptiles and then register them with the DNR is about to end.
An example of the need for these rules is an Argentine black-and-white tegu found under a porch in Athens last month. The homeowner was unaware of the lizard’s presence until neighborhood children alerted him to a “giant lizard” in his yard. Unfortunately, no one claimed the tegu, and it remains uncertain whether it escaped or was released, which is illegal.
Dr. Albanese states, “This is definitely an example of why we need to regulate these species. They can be difficult to keep, and as they grow, their owners may not want or be able to afford to care for them.”
The decision to add these reptile species to the state’s wildlife list was made based on their potential threat to wildlife and humans. Biologists reviewed non-native species documented in Georgia and nearby states, considering environmental risks and potential threats to humans.
The Argentine black and white tegu, for example, is a South American reptile commonly found in the pet trade. However, through escapes and releases, these lizards, which can grow up to 4 feet in length, have established wild populations in Florida and southeastern Georgia.
To allow pet owners to comply with the rules, the Natural Resources Board approved a 12-month period for businesses to tag and register six reptile species and sell any newly listed wildlife acquired before the changes take effect.
Pet owners can transfer their tagged and registered reptiles to others, provided they meet the requirements by the December 3rd deadline. After this date, tagged and unregistered animals may only be kept under license or permit for scientific, educational, or public exhibition purposes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. What are the new regulations in Georgia regarding reptile pets?
– The new regulations require pet owners to tag and register specific reptile species. Six reptile species, including the Argentine black and white tegu, have been designated as wild animals in Georgia.
2. When is the registration deadline?
– The registration deadline is December 3rd.
3. Why is it important to tag and register reptile pets?
– Tagging and registering reptile pets help track their ownership, ensuring responsible pet ownership and reducing potential risks associated with non-native species.
4. What are the consequences of not tagging and registering reptile pets?
– Failure to comply with the regulations may lead to legal penalties. Additionally, untagged and unregistered animals may only be kept under license or permit for specific purposes, such as scientific research or public exhibition.
5. Can pet owners transfer their tagged and registered reptiles to others?
– Yes, pet owners can transfer their tagged and registered reptiles, provided all requirements are met before the December 3rd deadline.
The recent encounter with a ‘giant lizard’ found under a porch in Athens highlights the importance of tagging and registering reptile pets in Georgia. These new regulations aim to ensure responsible ownership and protect native wildlife from the potential threats posed by non-native species. Pet owners are encouraged to act promptly and comply with the registration requirements before the December 3rd deadline. For more detailed information on registration and tagging, please visit the provided link.