Python Invasion: A look at a tegu operation

 
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Rodney Irwin specializes in an animal that few others can catch, but poses a threat to Everglades wildlife: tegus.

Irwin, the most prolific tegu hunter and trapper in South Florida, has more than 70 custom-made traps, which he places is strategic spots around South Florida and checks every day.

In this week’s video snippet -- outtakes of The Python Invasion documentary that will broadcast on WPBT2 later in the year -- we watch as Irwin explains his tegu operation.

We join Irwin on a round of trap-checking and watch as a tegu attacks him. The Argentine black and white tegu is a large lizard that resembles a monitor, grows large enough to attack pets, and displays an unusually high level of intelligence for a reptile.

"Take them home and they'll just sit right on your lap," said Irwin, who ships captured tegus to buyers around the world."They make great pets."

They are also invading South Florida and are threatening to spread into Everglades National Park. Their favorite food is eggs, and they've been observed by scientists raiding the nests of alligators, turtles and threatened birds.

Tegus, like Burmese pythons, were originally imported as pets to South Florida, but are now spreading in the wild.

Oscar Corral is the founder and president of Explica Media, and the director and producer of The Python Invasion. Follow him on Twitter @ojcorral

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