FAQ: General Care of Tegus

What are the Different types of Tegus?
Blue, Albino Blue, Black & White, Gold, and of course… Red.

How much do Tegus cost?
I have personally seen them sell for as little as $50 in bulk price to as much as $500 for a colorful adult. Prices depend on sex, size, color, age and lineage. Just remember that the price of the Tegu is only the beginning. You still need to buy the cage and all the supplies. That can run about $200+ depending on your choices.

Tegu Lizard

Do they bite?
Any animal with teeth can bite. If they are handled properly they generally do not bite. Their teeth are sharp and pointy. If they bite, you must be careful not to pull away and thereby cause a tear. The other thing to be cautious of is a "death roll". Just like gators and crocs, when they bite, they roll in order to tear off chunks of meat from large prey. Tegus will also take up an aggressive posture, tail whip and head butt when they feel threatened.

How big will my Tegu grow?
It varies due to many factors and they all grow at different rates. With proper husbandry, a Red Tegu of good genetic background can grow to about 4 foot and weigh 20 lbs. Just like people, they grow at different rates and have growth spurts where they grow so fast you can almost see them grow. Some factors that can influence the growth rate of a Tegu include: Genetic background, cage size, amount and type of food, competition for food, amount of light, type and amount of UV light, proper vitamins and supplements, being raised indoor or outdoor, stress levels and the general happiness of the animal.

Is it safe to have a Tegu with a small child?
Keeping any animal with teeth and sharp nails with a small child should only be done under close parental supervision and only after determining the temperament of the animal. Tegus are generally calm and docile once they reach sub adult size. Once acclimated to being around people and being handled they are for the most part friendly and gentile. My children and their friends have been handling our Tegus since they were 8 years old and never a mishap. It is important to wash hands with an antibacterial soap both before and after handling.

How much attention do they need?
The more you handle your Tegu, the tamer they will be. It is important to feed them and clean their cage daily.

When I hold my Tegu he squirms and scratches me. Am I doing something wrong?
Do not hold him! Let him hold you. The tighter you squeeze the more he will fight. Support him, do not try to restrain him, just let him hold onto you. Make sure he has a firm footing, letting him grab onto the front of your shirt or hold onto your shoulder will make him more comfortable. Remember that Tegus are terrestrial. They can climb but they feel more secure when they are on or close to the ground. Make sure that if you pick your Tegu up, he feels secure so he does not try to jump off. It helps if you cradle him like a baby.

I bought a Red Tegu but he is not red. Did I get ripped off?
Probably not if you purchased from a reputable breeder. When they are first born, they are quite green. Tegus can have dramatic changes in color over their first two years or so. Tegu genetics is still a bit of a mystery. By breeding multiple generations of animals with a particular color trait, that color is more likely to be passed on.

My Tegu escaped from his cage now he is lost. Can I use food to catch him?
A Tegus first instinct is to hide. He will probably not come out looking for food readily especially when people are around. If you have hard wood or tile floors you can sift flour onto the floor than when they are out they will leave tracks that you can follow. Try looking in low dark places, they generally won’t climb up things as much as crawl under and into things. If you have potted plants, check to see if they have dug a hole in them. They generally don’t go far. Look inside furniture. They get under a couch and end up exploring the springs and padding. They will fit into amazingly small tight spaces. The tighter the space, the more secure they feel.

Is my Tegu a boy or girl?
The only way to sex a juvenile Tegu is to probe just like a snake. When they mature, males will develop pronounced jowls. More importantly, males will have a small BB size bump on each side of the base of his tail by the vent.