If someone told me a few years back that I would own a Tegu Lizard, I would have laughed and treated it like a joke!!
However, here I am! A proud owner of not one but two Tegu lizards and ready to take on more!
What changed? A lot of things did. Firstly, my friend got one, and I saw how happy it made him. Secondly, I had to look after his pet for a few days because he was going out of town. I was a bit apprehensive initially but soon realized how great these lizards are.
As soon as my friend was back, I asked him to get me one of my own. Now, there is no turning back! I have become a die-hard fan!!
The tegu Lizards are also well known as the Argentine Giant Tegu or the Black and White Tegu. It is a giant lizard and belongs to the Teiidae family of lizards. It is omnivorous and mostly lives in tropical rain forests and semi-arid areas of central and eastern South America. They are highly intelligent, and it is possible to train them. They hibernate for a part of the year and the rest of the time, are quite active.
Tegu Lizard Size & Life Span
As hatchlings, Tegus are quite small but soon start to grow large at a fast speed. The male adult Tegus can grow up to 4 or 5 feet while the female adults can grow to about 3 feet. A healthy Tegu can live up to 15 or more years in the wild and between 15 and 20 years in captivity.
Appearance of the Tegu Lizard
As babies, they have an emerald green color on its head and back with some black markings. As they age, this color changes to black and white. As a young lizard, the tail has bands of yellow and black. The older they get, the lesser the bands. These bands can tell you about the age of your pet. The body has beaded skin.
When it feels any threat, it can drop a section of its tail as a distraction and escape. The tail is quite strong and can hurt an opponent in a fight. It has a big skull and has large facial muscles.
- They like to hide in dark and narrow areas
- They want to have the food at a regular time every day
- They are not very docile, but you can train them with patience
- Never pick them up with their tail. It may annoy them.
Tegu Lizard Diet
You need to feed them a balanced meal for a healthy life. The diet should include
- Insects like crickets, mealworms, wax-worms apart from the commercial food.
- You can give them frozen rodents and goldfish
- Rodents and such food items should be in a separate area and handled carefully
- Always keep fresh and clean water in the enclosure
- Unlike many other reptiles, you need to give food to tegu every day
- Give supplements every day with the meals like calcium, vitamins and minerals.
Points to remember
- Onions mushrooms and avocados are a strict no-no.
- Don’t overfeed or it may lead to obesity
- Never give dog or cat food because it contains a lot of fat
Tegu Lizard’s Living Conditions
- These lizards like to well on grounds and are not very fond of heights. You will need a sizeable horizontal enclosure for your pet to live comfortably. It does not have to be too high. For an adult Tegu, a cabinet having dimensions 3 by 4 by 8 feet is ideal. For a smaller or younger Tegu, make sure that the tank is at least 2 by 2 by 4 feet. It is good to have a sliding glass or acrylic door and a lid that closes perfectly. If you have 3 smaller doors instead of 2 large ones, it can help while cleaning.
- You should clean and disinfect the habitat thoroughly at least once a week. Remove the lizard from the tank and scrub the tank well. Rinse and dry completely and then change the substrate before putting your pet back in.
- One end of the enclosure should be a hot spot, while the other purpose should be cold. It is a good idea to build a brick patio in the cabinet. Bricks retain heat, and the lizards can bask for a longer time. Above the blocks, you can hang a light fixture. This will provide warmth and light that your pet needs.
- The temperature should be between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold end should have a temperature of about 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wheat straw is a suitable substrate for the enclosure. It is cheap and readily available. You can place a 6-inch layer of straw. You can also use coconut fiber, cypress mulch, orchid bark, or any such substrate. These could be more difficult to find.
- They like to climb, so provide some sturdy branches and rocks in the enclosure.
- You should maintain humidity at about 75%. You may have to mist the tank often in the dry season.
- If you have more than one, then keep an eye on them. Do not put different species of reptiles together.
Tegu Lizard Health
When you decide to pick a young or adult Tegu look for these signs to ensure good health
- It is alert and active
- The eyes are clear with no discharge
- The body looks right for its age
- The skin has a good sheen and does not look dull
- It is eating regularly
If your pet is not well, you will notice
- Loss in appetite which results in weight loss
- Swelling on any part of the body
- Irregular breathing
- More lazy than normal
Tegu Lizard Price
The price of a Tegu lizard will depend on where and from where you are buying it. Usually, it will cost you around 200 dollars. If you are lucky, you can get it for less! The price can go up to 300 dollars or even more depending on the breeder.
Having a Tegu lizard is similar to having a dog because they like cuddling and recognize their owners!! They are happy with people and unlike other reptiles, are social creatures. You will never regret getting a Tegu lizard and will enjoy its company immensely!