Local News

Neighbors concerned, not threatened, by lizards on loose in Wake Forest

Posted September 29

— Wake Forest police on Friday warned residents in and around the Bowling Green subdivision that a resident had lost three venomous Gila monsters, but police now say they are Argentine tegu, a less dangerous species.

The police department posted to Facebook that the lizards were missing and that "several area residents have reported seeing the escapees on social media."

Jeffrey Applegate, a professor from North Carolina State University, said this is not the first time a tegu was found in Wake Forest.

"[A]nother red tegu was found in Wake Forest about a month ago and brought to the veterinary college. That animal was reportedly found with a black and white tegu (a different species). Also, reportedly another black and white and red were spotted in the same area," he said in an email to WRAL News.

Gila monster

JoAnn Sarmiento said the lizards in question live in a hole in her front yard. 

"He just hang out and doesn't bother us," she said. "He hangs around in the bushes...he'll sunbathe on the front porch."

Dr. Jennifer Hummel, a veterinirian at Rolesville Animal Hospital, who specializes in exotic animlas, says even though tegus are not venomous, they can still pack a nasty bite."

Encyclopedia Britannica says there are seven varieties of tegu, and they can grow to 4 feet.

Tegu lizard

Anyone who spots one of the lizards is encouraged to call Wake County Animal Control at 919-856-6911.


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  • William Jones Sep 29, 1:59 p.m.
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    You were wrong, you said "no such thing as a venomous lizard, which is a false statement. No they do not ordinarily attack people, their venom is not strong, and their delivery system is not good, but by definition they are venomous. You went on to talk about not venom bacteria, which is also wrong. No one said they were deadly or dangerous, they said they are venomous, which is correct. You're wrong, be adult enough to admit it, correct yourself, and learn from it.

  • Cnc Stone Sep 29, 1:47 p.m.
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    Can a bite from a Gila monster kill you?
    When the lizard bites, small grooves in the teeth help the venom flow into its prey. The bite of a Gila monster is very strong, and the lizard may not loosen its grip for several seconds. It may even chew so that the venom goes deeper into the wound. A Gila monster bite is painful to humans, but it rarely causes death.

  • Cnc Stone Sep 29, 1:43 p.m.
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    Although the venom is a neurotoxin as toxic as that of a coral snake, H. suspectum produces only small amounts. The Gila monster's bite is not fatal to healthy adult humans. Know it all ? Lol

  • Cnc Stone Sep 29, 1:41 p.m.
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    I know what I'm talking about I lived in the south west for many years , They do not attack humans but you would know that here in know it all nc wth the worst education system in the country

  • Cnc Stone Sep 29, 11:07 a.m.
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    Lived in south west for years these things run from people not after !

  • Jeffrey Derry Sep 29, 11:00 a.m.
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    True story out of wake forest la-la land

  • Cnc Stone Sep 29, 10:41 a.m.
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    Not veniom bacteria better read more do less insulting !

  • Frank Curcio Sep 29, 10:37 a.m.
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    Sorry, there is one - the Gila Monster. Check around before throwing around absolutes.

  • Cnc Stone Sep 29, 10:19 a.m.
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    No such thing as a " venomous lizard " !