B&W tegu care sheet

Quick facts:

  • Size – 4 to 5 feet.
  • Lifespan – with good care, your tegu can live for 20+ years.
  • Personality – the Argentine black and white tegu can become remarkably docile, almost dog-like by the time it reaches full maturity. Argentines are not to be confused with the Columbian species, though. Columbians can become quite tame but are certainly not known for it like their Argentine cousins.
  • Cage size – there are no commercially available cages. You’ll have to build your own. A minimum 6′ length x 3′ depth x 2′ height is recommended, although, like always, bigger is definitely better.

Diet:

Tegus are primarily meat-eaters but it’s good to include some fruits and veggies for them as well. When your tegu is small, you’ll want to introduce crickets, mealworms, cooked eggs (raw eggs provide unnecessary exposure to bacteria that may make your tegu sick), and raw turkey. Berries of any variety are good for them and can help get them used to non-meat entres.

As adults, you’ll want to start introducing a little more fruit and some fish. Melons, berries, bananas and oranges (in moderation). Fish should be given raw. Salmon is the best, but I’ve given mine fresh tilapia as well. Ground turkey should be mixed with vitamins and calcium powder. I like to chop up my veggies and mix it into some scrambled eggs for mine to eat. Remember to feed him those shells, too! They’re a great source of calcium.

Hatchlings and small tegus should be fed daily or every other day while adults can bed fed every other day.

Temperature/humidity:

Tegus need a basking spot on one end of their enclosure in the high 90’s to about 110. I like to keep mine at exactly 100°. UVA/UVB light must also be provided. Like most lizards, tegus are suceptible to metabolic bone disease (MBD) if they are not exposed to proper lighting.

The humidity needs to be high for proper shedding and overall health. Eighty to 90% is perfect for them and can be achieved through daily misting or the addition of a humid-hide box. You’ll also want to make sure that your tegu has a water bowl big enough for soaking as they are quite fond of submersion.

Additional notes:

Tegus are quite terrestrial and like to burrow. Make sure you provide a massive amount of dirt for them to play in. A good recipe for your tegu’s substrate consists of playground sand with some organic topsoil. You want it to be able to hold a burrow if the tegu so desires.

Your tegu may also be given the chance to brumate. They’ll typically sleep for 6 months out of the year during this period. It’s usually done to ensure breeding but some people also believe it contributes to the overall health of their animal. I do not allow mine to brumate and I have not noticed any ill-consequences as a result.

To brumate your tegu, you’ll want to take him off feed approximately two weeks prior to brumation. This will ensure that his belly is empty and food does not rot in his stomach. Next, you’ll provide a place for your tegu to bury himself. Be sure to keep this area continuously misted. That moisture is important! And then you’ll gradually lower the temps over a period of days until you’ve arrived at approximately 55°. It is difficult to ensure that that temperature remains the same, but it must be relatively consistent. If it dips below 50°, your tegu could get sick. If it goes above, he will come out of hibernation.

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