Loose lizard captured

The escaped Tegu had been living under two women’s homes for weeks
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 11:51 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - After weeks on the run, a large reptile who was on the loose in Killeen has been captured.

The female Tegu had spent the last five to six weeks under two different houses in Killeen...where she wasn’t exactly welcome.

The lizard escaped from her owner’s backyard on Dickens Dr. in August and hunkered down under the porch of Khairah Ali-Allen, who lives two houses down.

After the owner, animal control and others failed to recover the reptile, she moved on to another woman’s house about a quarter-mile away.

“All the commotion scared her away,” said Brandon Forrest, a volunteer with Cen-Tex Reptile & Wildlife Services. “We were just hoping nothing bad happened to the animal.”

Over the weekend, thanks to advice from Cen-Tex Reptile & Wildlife Services on how to lure the lizard out from under a shed with certain foods, they say the woman was able to secure the lizard under a kiddie pool until they arrived.

“The Tegu has been captured,” said Forrest. “We showed up and the animal was underneath the kiddie pool, it’s full on ‘fight or flight,’ and it was doing both.”

From snakes to racoons to bees...the group out of Gatesville has helped rescue just about everything that’s wild, however, this was their first captive recovery.

“We were definitely predators in her eyes, but once we picked her up she instantly calmed down and was like ‘well, ok, I guess I’m going with y’all now,” said Landi Hill, a volunteer with Cen-Tex Reptile & Wildlife Services.

Aries, who has now been renamed Snowflake, made headlines last month after KWTX ran a story with Ali-Allen asking for help with the large lizard’s removal.

“My cousin said he was at the doctor’s office and he heard someone in the next room talking about ‘the lady and the lizard,’” laughed Ali-Allen.

Ali-Allen says when she heard the lizard was caught, it was a big relief.

“The other night I went to bed--I got like nine hours of sleep, so that’s a big difference than the two to four I was getting with the anxiety from not knowing where she was,” said Ali-Allen. “The stress level has definitely come down a whole lot, so thank you for everybody who helped and gave advice and everything, I appreciate it all.”

KWTX received dozens of emails with offers from people, rescue groups and animal-related businesses wanting to assist in recovering the reptile.

The City of Killeen confirmed to KWTX Wednesday, the lizard was in the possession of Cen-Tex Reptile & Wildlife Services.

Now that it’s been more than 72-hours since the lizard was captured and no one has claimed her, the volunteers who rescued the animal have adopted her.

“In situations like this, we work really closely with law enforcement, animal control, Game Wardens, so we always make sure what we’re doing is 100% legal,” said Fallon Redding, a volunteer with Cen-Tex Reptile & Wildlife Services.

They said the animal appeared to be in good health, however, they are quarantining her be safe.

“We’re going to get her to the vet, have her looked through, make sure she didn’t catch any parasites or anything because this isn’t her native land, they’re not from here,” said Redding. “It’s really important for her health, and the health of the other animals we have, that she’s healthy and taken care of.”

Following her quarantine, they say Snowflake will live with one of them and likely be used in classrooms and at events for reptile education so people can better appreciate these misunderstood creatures.

“She’s going to get her happy ending,” said Hill.

While the lizard will get her happy ending, Ali-Allen says she will finally get a good night’s sleep now that this ‘scaly’ situation can be put to rest.

“She’s gone, I’m safe, she’s safe, and all is well,” said Ali-Allen.

The group provides their services free of charge.

“We just really try to get out there and provide some education, that’s mostly what we do is educational stuff,” said Redding.

Part of their educational push is for people to understand: a lot goes into owning these kinds of animals.

“They’re not an easy animal to care for, it’s a large lizard...it has to have a large enclosure, they have a particular diet they have to eat, proper temperature and lighting,” said Hill.

The reptile experts had some advice for others wanting to own exotic pets.

“You can’t hope for anything but to give an animal a good life,” said Forrest. “If you’re going to get an animal, just make sure you do the research on what it takes to take care of them.”

Anyone needing help with a wild, exotic animal is encouraged to call Cen-Tex Reptile & Wildlife Services before taking matters into their own hands.

“If it’s not an animal that we are fit to keep ourselves, we have a network of people that we are able to reach out to,” said Redding.

You can find the group on Facebook here.