Sid Pennington is a retired Florida man, who spent his retirement days trapping the invasive Tegu lizards. Which included species of Argentine black and white tegu lizards west of Fort Pierce, Florida.
The 60-year-old retiree considers himself a reptile expert. He spent his free time capturing them. However, some retirees spend their days relaxing at home or traveling across the world to check off items on their bucket list.
Pennington has turned catching invasive lizards into a wildlife hobby. Which does not fit the traditional definition of retirement. Pennington has captured at least 117 tegu lizards from the woods and neighboring communities of his home.
In 2021, when another Florida man trapped 20 lizards, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encouraged him to be a volunteer. However, the most recent statistics show that Pennington has trapped 31 reptiles in 2022 alone.
In comparison to other species in the United States, tegus are not protected in Florida. This is due to AWA’s laws and provisions. Which primarily focus on protecting mammals such as cats, captive wildlife, dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, domestic livestock, non-human primates, and marine mammals (USDA).
Tegus devour reptile eggs that have been buried, particularly alligator and turtle eggs. Their expanding population threatens endangered native species in Florida, such as crocodiles, sea turtles, ground-nesting birds, and the Key Largo woodrat.
This means that invasive reptiles can still be killed on private property with the approval of the landowner, according to the organization. Moreover, the University of Florida has termed tegu as a predator. Which is more likely to be a threat to South Florida’s native animals.
According to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the Argentine black and white tegus should be killed in a humane manner.