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Hilo resident finds his Christmas tree is topped with alligator lizard

  • COURTESY HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
                                An alligator lizard was found on a Christmas tree in Hilo over the weekend.

    COURTESY HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

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

  • COURTESY HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
                                A green iguana was captured in tree at a Waimanalo residence on Monday.

    COURTESY HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

    A green iguana was captured in tree at a Waimanalo residence on Monday.

A Hilo resident found an alligator lizard on a Christmas tree over the weekend, while a green iguana was captured in Waimanalo, state agricultural officials said today.

Both reptiles are now in quarantine with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

In the first incident, a Hilo resident transporting a just-purchased Christmas tree on the rack of his vehicle spotted a large lizard on top of it after getting home. He captured it and reported the animal to the state’s pest hotline at 643-7378.

State agriculture inspectors picked up the foot-long lizard Monday morning.

Reptile experts at the Honolulu Zoo and Panaewa Rainforest Zoo identified the lizard as a southern alligator lizard. Southern alligator lizards, or Elgaria multicarinata, are native to the U.S. and Mexico and may grow up to two feet in length.

Agricultural inspectors traced the origin of the Christmas tree to a shipment from Washington state, and conducted follow-up inspections of the remaining trees, but found no evidence of other alligator lizards, department officials said.

State officials said they are arranging for Panaewa Rainforest Zoo to temporarily safeguard the lizard under quarantine conditions for educational purposes.

On Monday morning, Honolulu police notified Oahu agricultural inspectors about a green iguana spotted in a tree at a Waimanalo home. Inspectors captured the 4-to-5-foot-long iguana and quarantined it.

Green iguanas are native to central Mexico and South America, state officials said, and can reach up to 6 feet in length from head to tail tip. They are typically vegetarians, but are known to disturb bird nestlings and feed on eggs.

Although found on Oahu, it is illegal to import, possess or transport iguanas in Hawaii.

Anyone possessing illegal animals are subject to fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in prison, state officials warn.

Under the state’s amnesty program, individuals who have illegal animals may turn them in to any HDOA office, municipal zoo or Humane Society , with no questions asked and no fines assessed.

Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free hotline at 643-PEST (7378.)

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