(BIVN) – An alligator lizard was found on an imported Christmas tree in Hilo over the weekend, state officials say.
According to the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture:
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 Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo have identified the lizard as a southern alligator lizard.
Ag inspectors traced the origin of the Christmas tree to a shipment from Washington State. Follow-up inspections of the remaining Christmas trees from the same shipment were conducted, and officials say no evidence of other alligator lizards was found.
According to the state, 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.
The Panaʻewa Zoo will “temporarily safeguard the lizard under quarantine conditions for educational purposes”, the state says.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture says anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).