Argentine Black and White Tegu

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Species group:

Other common names: Argentine Tegu; Black and White Tegu; Blue Tegu; Chacoan Tegu; Giant Tegu; Big Headed Tegu; Argentinian Black and White Tegu

Scientific name: Tupinambis merianae

The basics:
The Argentine Black and White Tegu is among the most intelligent of all lizards – and who can resist the world’s first known partially warm blooded reptile! But while they can make interesting, responsive pets, Tegus are capable of inflicting serious injuries, and require much more space than the average owner can provide. It is a species best left to serious, experienced, adult keepers.

The Argentine Black and White Tegu ranges from southern Brazil through Paraguay and Bolivia to northern Uruguay and northern Argentina. Feral populations are established in Florida, USA.

Highly adaptable, it may be found in ocean-side scrub, open forests and savannas, and also colonizes roadsides, farms and ranches.

Appearance / health:
This thick-set lizard reaches 1 - 1.5 meters (3.5 - 5 ft) in length. The body is vividly patterned in black and white. Researchers were shocked to discover that Argentine Black and White Tegus are able to raise their body temperature 15-18 F above ambient during the breeding season, making this the first known partially warm blooded reptile.

Argentine Black and White Tegus are quite hardy when given proper care, and may reach 20 years of age. Metabolic bone disease is common in animals that are not provided with ample calcium and/or UVB exposure.

Behavior / temperament:
Hatchlings can be skittish, and adults vary greatly in personality. Many pets become quite responsive, learning to predict feeding times and seeming to distinguish between owners and strangers. However, they can inflict severe injuries, requiring stitches or other medical attention, with their teeth, tails, and nails. Handling instruction should be sought from an experienced owner. Argentine Black and White Tegus are not suitable pets for children.

Hatchlings may be started in a 55 gallon aquarium, but will need a homemade or commercial cage in time. An enclosure measuring at least 8 x 6 x 6 feet is essential for the proper housing of an adult. Outdoor cages or dedicated indoor rooms can be excellent options.

Tegus fare best when provided with 2-3 feet of a sand/soil substrate in which to burrow; hollow logs, one filled with moist substrate, should also be in place as hiding spots. A water bowl large enough for bathing must always be available.

Argentine Black and White Tegus require daily exposure to UVB, a temperature gradient of 78-88 F, and a basking temperature of 100 -120 F. Slate may be placed under the basking lamp to provide an extra-warm (to 130 F) area. Humidity should be kept at 60-75 %.

The natural diet is comprised of invertebrates, lizards, snakes, birds and their eggs, rodents, fish, frogs, fruit and carrion.

Young Argentine Black and White Tegus should be fed near-daily meals of roaches, locusts, silk worms, hornworms, earthworms and other commercially-available species and, as they gain size, small mice. Adults fare well on diets based around mice, rats, whole fresh-water fish, fruit, and hard-boiled eggs.

Most meals provided to growing animals should be powdered with a Calcium source. Vitamin/mineral supplements should be used 2-3 times each week. Both can be reduced to once weekly for well-nourished adults.

Potential breeders may be chilled to 65-68 F for 1-3 months (following a 2 week fast), but reproduction may also occur without temperature manipulation. Females should be provided with at least 3 feet of a sand/soil mix in which to nest. Clutches may contain 6-40+ eggs. The eggs can be incubated in a mix of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water (by weight) at 86-90 F for 45-75 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


wonderful eaters, amazing reptiles, good temperd, yellowish white dots, good size, nice color


sharp teeth, large enclosure, claws, young kids, powerful bite


hard leathery tail, proper handling, manageable size, chicken hearts, potty training

Argentine Black and White Tegu Health Tip

Argentine Black and White Tegu

From lucidremedy Jan 30 2015 9:04AM


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