How to Succeed with Your New Tegu
Aqualand's scoop on Tupinambus whatever
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Origin: Tegus closely resemble (in appearance and requirements) the monitors from Africa and S.E. Asia. They come from quite a range in South America. The ones we get come mostly from Columbia. Happily, tegus stay much smaller than monitors.
Environment: Most tegus prefer to live on the ground, near water, in humid areas. Try to duplicate this in their living quarters.
Temperature: Tegus demand 85o or better during the day. Too cool temperatures make them susceptible to disease. High temperatures speed up their metabolism. This helps them digest their food more easily and fight off diseases. Heat one end of their tank to around 100o. Take any ill tegu to a lizard vet fast. And remember that a warm lizard is a fast lizard.
Foods: Feed the small
guys gut-loaded crickets, grasshoppers, pinkie mice, small fish, eggs and
canned or frozen tegu food. Larger
tegus eat goldfish, mice, crayfish, rats, eggs, and birds.
If you give your tegu live rodents, you are asking for a scarred
(and maybe scared) lizard. (You
would stop eating bacon and tomato sandwiches if they bit your face.)
Humanely killed rodents make a safer food
choice. The new frozen
tegu foods make feeding them even easier.
Yes, tegus will eat canned dog food.
So will people. In the wild, tegus eat whatever they can
catch or find – insects, eggs, birds, rodents, crayfish, fish and oddly
Colin Rye, June 14, 2006
I have been researching tegus for a little while now because I might get one someday, and I came across y'all's tegu page. I noticed how it looked like you are feeding mostly verts and inverts. On another site I saw, some scientists looked at what black and white tegus are eating in the wild and this is the outcome: They found that 66.8 % of the stomach contents consisted of fruit and vegetable matter; 12.9 % were invertebrates; and 20.3 % were vertebrates. I hope I helped y'all out on keeping your animals happy and healthy. ;)
A: Thanks for the info, Colin. I'll add it to our tegu page. LA
Reggie Nator, December 12, 2009
Hello, Let me first say, I love your web site and everything on it. You always have good info even if ignorant people don't always agree. I was looking at your tegu care page and some things seemed to be mixed up. The tegus you're talking about are Columbian tegus (Tupinambis teguixin) These guys are pretty tough to work with and only grow to about 3ft. The Argentine black and white tegu (Tupinambis merianae) grows to around 4-5ft and are much much tamer and much easier to work with. Those are the ones that can eat fruit and veggies although it isn't required. The Columbians are strictly carnivores. They can be hard to tell apart so I included some pics on how to tell. These pics are from Thetegu.com.
Again the Argentines are super calm and much easier to work with but they need a lot more room. Here is a pic of mine.
Again love your web site. Keep up the good work!
A: Alright. That's good to know. I just thought some were hard to get along with and some were easy to get along with (just like people). When we order them, most suppliers just say B&W tegu, no country of origin. We've got this really muscular guy that fits your Columbian profile.
I hope that Thetegu.com doesn't mind us borrowing their pics. I'm adding your input to our tegu page. LA
Lighting: Like most
reptiles, tegus need full-spectrum fluorescent lighting or daily sessions
in real sunlight. The closer
they can climb to your bulbs, the better your bulbs work.
Set your timer on 12-hour days.
Supplements: Because baby tegus can grow so fast (as much as an inch a month), your baby tegu probably needs a calcium and vitamin supplement dusted on his food. If you give yours pinkies (baby rodents), you will meet many of his mineral and vitamin needs.
Heat: An under-cage heater plus a basking heat source make a good combination. Provide a range of temperatures. Incandescent lights make a good basking site.
Humidity Box: To get a
good shed, tegus need a high humidity.
They also like to get out of your sight occasionally.
That’s why they crawl under their water bowl or dig into their
substrate. Dampen their
humidity box often. Poor sheds
from low humidity can cause them to lose their toes.
Water: Tegus (and most big lizards) love soaking in their water. They also love turning over their water dishes. This also raises their humidity, but can make a mess. Use a very heavy water container. Most lizards defecate in their water. Change it daily.
Handling: Adult tegus can be hard to tame. The smallest ones are easier to work with. When you first get your tegu, you may need to use stout gloves to handle it. Some tegus never adjust to handling. If one of these guys runs out and bites you, you may inadvertently teach him to fly.
Breeding: Expect a three-month hibernation period. Not many people manage to breed these critters.
Snoopy: Tegus like to explore their surroundings. They use their long tongue and Jacobson’s organ to track prey and “taste” their environment. Give them branches and rocks to climb on and caves to explore. Your cage needs lizard-scaping.
Last Words: Remember that tegus sometimes walk around in their own digested food. This means they probably carry salmonella. Wash your hands after handling all reptiles. LA.
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