HDOA News Release: ALLIGATOR LIZARD FOUND ON CHRISTMAS TREE IN HILO AND IGUANA CAPTURED IN WAIMANALO

Posted on Nov 27, 2019 in Latest News

HONOLULU – An alligator lizard was found on a Christmas tree in Hilo over the weekend and a green iguana was captured this week in Waimānalo, O`ahu.

A Hilo resident was transporting a Christmas tree on the rack of his vehicle over the weekend. When he arrived home, he spotted a large lizard on top of the Christmas tree. He was able to capture it and reported the animal to the state’s pest hotline, 643-PEST (7378). Plant Quarantine inspectors from the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) picked up the foot-long lizard Monday morning. Reptile experts at the Honolulu Zoo and the Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo have identified the lizard as a southern alligator lizard.

HDOA inspectors have traced the origin of the Christmas tree to a shipment from Washington State and conducted follow-up inspections of the remaining Christmas trees from that shipment. No evidence of other alligator lizards was found. Arrangements are currently being made to allow the Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo to temporarily safeguard the lizard under quarantine conditions for educational purposes.

Southern alligator lizards (Elgaria multicarinata) are native to the U.S. and Mexico and may grow up to two feet in length. Their diet includes various insects, spiders, snails and other lizards.

On Monday morning, O`ahu Plant Quarantine inspectors were notified by Honolulu Police about a green iguana that was spotted in a tree at a residence in Waimanalo. Inspectors were immediately dispatch and captured the green iguana which is approximately 4 to 5 feet long.

When fully grown, green iguanas may reach up to 6 feet in length from head to tip of tail. The tail is quite powerful, acting as a dangerous weapon in fending off enemies. Green iguanas (Iguana iguana) are native to central Mexico through South America and are typically vegetarians, but are known to disturb bird nestlings and feed on eggs.

Although they are found on O`ahu, it is illegal to import, possess or transport iguanas in Hawai`i. Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in prison.

Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378). Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.

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Media Contact:

Janelle Saneishi, Public Information Officer
Hawai`i Department of Agriculture

808.973.9560

[email protected]
http://hdoa.hawaii.gov