An alligator lizard was found on a Christmas tree in Hilo over the weekend.
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.
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.