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Caring For an Argentinian Tegu

Are you considering adopting an Argentinian tegu? These lizards are becoming quite popular as pets. As your Marion, IA vet, I am happy to care for tegus. I discuss the basic care of Argentinian tegus below.

Basics

Tegus are very smart, and can even be taught to respond to their names! These pretty lizards are green and black when they are young, but become black and white as adults. They are quite small as babies, but they don’t stay that way for long. Tegus grow quite fast, and can eventually get up to about 4 ½ feet long. They can live up to 20 years with proper care, so make sure you can commit to caring for your lizard for its entire lifespan before adopting one.

Housing

If you want a small lizard that can live in a small tank in your bedroom or living room, a tegu is probably not the right pet for you. Although young tegus don’t need much space, adult tegus need fairly large enclosures: 4 x 8 is often recommended as a good size. Your tegu will need areas to nap, sunbathe, eat, and drink, as well as shady spots. Tegus are notorious for loving to dig and burrow, so be sure to provide enough substrate for your lizard to dig in. They also climb, so you’ll need to cover the enclosure. As for substrate, you can use a sand/soil mix, cypress mulch, or other suitable substances. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Diet

The diet of a pet Argentinian tegu usually consists of rodents. You can also offer your pet chicks or raw eggs. Don’t feed your lizard by hand. Although adult tegus are usually fairly docile, they tend to get a bit rowdy around dinnertime, and can snap at their food. Needless to say, this can be a bit dangerous.

Habitat

Tegus do require specific temperatures. The enclosure should be set up with one side cooler than the other. You’ll need to keep your lizard’s cage quite warm: adults like a surface temperature of up to 135 degrees on the hot end, and around 70 to 80 on the cooler side. Your tegu will also need specific lighting conditions. Ask your vet for more information.

Do you have an Argentinian tegu? As your Marion, IA vet, I offer excellent reptile care. Call me anytime!

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