Meet the Argentine Tegu!


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black and white argentine tegu

What is an Argentine Tegu?

Friendly and intelligent, the Argentine tegu is one of the more unique of lizard species. They have become more popular as a pet because of their docile nature and intelligence. They have a black or dark brown coloration, with small white spots on their belly. In the wild, the Argentine tegu is an important predator of small mammals and reptiles.

How Big Do Argentine Tegus Get?

Argentine tegus can grow grow up to four feet in length. While it is not the largest lizard in the world, it is still quite impressive in size. Fully grown adults weigh up to 15 pounds. Select breeds grow even larger, with some individuals reaching six feet or more.

What Does an Argentine Tegu Eat?

Argentine Tegus are opportunistic feeders and prefer a diet of snakes, rodents, and birds. Sometimes they are known to eat turtles and small alligators in the wild. Argentine Tegus need access to water at all times. If you consider keeping one of these lizards as a pet, expect them to eat a lot!

How Long Does an Argentine Tegu Live?

With proper care, Argentine tegus can live up to 20 years or more in captivity. In the wild, however, their lifespan is considerably shorter, with most tegus only living for around 10 years.

Where Do Argentine Tegus Live?  

Argentine tegu is native to South America in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. They prefer humid, tropical environments and inhabit near water sources like rivers and streams.

Did You Know?   These lizards are highly territorial and will defend their territory against other tegus and predators. They are also highly intelligent and can learn to recognize individual people and animals.

Are Argentine Tegu Venomous (or Dangerous)?

Not really. People often wonder if these lizards are dangerous. While it is true that Argentine tegus have two large venom glands, they are not dangerous to humans. They use their glands for self-defense, and the venom is not strong enough to cause serious harm to humans. However, it is still advisable to use caution when handling these lizards, as their teeth can be quite sharp.

Do Argentine Tegus Make Good Pets?

Mostly. Considered an exotic pet, tegus are curious and intelligent. They are also very active, so they need a lot of space to run and climb. Tegus are also very friendly, and you can train yours to do tricks. However, they can also be nippy, so they may not be feasible for households with small children.

Is the Argentine Tegu Endangered?

The Argentine tegu is currently on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern, meaning the numbers are stable in the wild. However, there is always the threat for the species to thrive due to concerns such as deforestation and urbanization. As well, humans hunt tegus for their skin and meat, a delicacy in some cultures. As a result of these threats, experts estimate that the Argentine tegu population has declined by 80% over the past decade.

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~Vince Covino

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