Argentine Black and White Tegu: Care and Feeding

The Argentine Black and White Tegu is a big lizard with the scientific name Tupinambis merianae. As the name indicates, it comes from Argentina, and some parts of Brazil and Uruguay. Argentine Black and White Tegus are usually calm and simple to deal with.

Natural surroundings

Argentine Black and White Tegus usually reside in savannahs and grasslands adjacent to rain forests. They are not tree dwellers, however spend most of their time on land and beneath it, carving out deep burrows that supply humidity and security from extreme temperatures.

Physical Characteristics

Argentine Black and White Tegus begin little, but quite rapidly grow large: women typically reach around 3 feet, and males approximately 4-1/2 feet in length. The Argentine Black and White Tegu has actually beaded skin and a distinctive pattern of white and black dots and stripes. There are two lines of yellow dots diminishing its back from its neck to the start of its tail. Young Argentine Tegus are green with black markings, and the green eventually fades to white over the first few months of its life. Argentine Black and White Tegus can live 15 years in captivity.

Character and Handling

If managed well when they are young, Argentine Black and White Tegus, will be fairly docile as grownups, other than when they are eating, which they do voraciously. They appear to take pleasure in connecting with human beings. The more youthful your tegu is when you start handling it, the more it will bond with you and the better it will respond to routine handling.

Argentine Black and White Tegus can be kept in groups, and in the wild they in fact hibernate in larger groups. However, in captivity, we recommend that you have groups no larger than 3 unless you have a large outdoor enclosure. There should be only one male per group to avoid fighting.


Argentine Black and White Tegus should be kept in an enclosure not less than 6 feet x 2 ft for one male. One female’s enclosure can be slightly smaller sized. Since Argentine Black & White Tegus are really active, their environments need to be as large as possible. You might even wish to consider a closet or space sized enclosure, and you will definitely need to build your very own habitat rather than acquire one. The enclosure ought to be safe and well-ventilated. If you reside in an environment that is equivalent to their natural surroundings, you can house them outdoors as soon as they are completely grown.

Also read: Bearded Dragon (Lizard): Habitat, Diet, and Care


Noticeable white light:

A mix of fluorescent and incandescent light fixtures can be used to supply visible light to all areas of the enclosure.

Ultraviolet light:

In addition to white light, Argentine Black and White Tegus must have access to natural sunshine for excellent health. This is due to the fact that they require a particular spectrum of ultraviolet (UV) light called UVB. UVB is required for the Argentine Tegus to make Vitamin D.

If an Argentine Tegu does not have access to brilliant sunshine, unique complete spectrum lights with UVB will be had to provide the UVB light. These are sometimes called black lights for reptiles. They are NOT the black light tubes used for lighting fluorescent minerals, posters, and psychedelic paraphernalia (typically called BLB lights). Fish/aquarium and plant ‘grow’ lights, either incandescent or fluorescent, do NOT produce UVB. You need a black light which gives off light in the 290-320 nanometer range. Lights producing just UVB, and lights which produce a combination of UVB and white lights are readily available. ZooMed’s reptile or iguana lights, and Durotest’s Vita-Lite are two great items. These UVB source of lights should be replaced every 6 months.

Bear in mind that UV light can not penetrate glass, so when overhead UVB lights are used, the top of the enclosure must be a wire mesh that is not too fine. It is recommended that the UVB light source ought to be less than 18 inches from where the Argentine Tegu invests the majority of its time; 10-12 inches is optimum.

The areas illuminated by the incandescent basking light and the UV light must overlap. If the Argentine Tegu spends almost all his time basking under the incandescent light, and the UV light is at the other end of the cage, he is not going to get any gain from it.


Argentine Tegus are cold-blooded animals and require extra heat for appropriate food digestion. They prefer 75-85 ° F throughout the day. Nighttime temperature levels can be 5-10 ° cooler. If a reptile is cold, it can not correctly absorb its food and is more likely to become ill. Lizards like a temperature gradient so if they are cold, they can relocate to a warmer part of the cage and vice versa. Place a great quality thermometer at each end of the cage at the level the Argentine Tegu invests most of its time so you can keep an eye on the temperature.

Main heat source:

A main heat source is necessary to keep the temperature of the whole cage within the proper range. A series of incandescent lights over the cage is among the best heat sources. During the night, these lights will need to be shut off and another heat source may be required depending upon the ambient temperature. A heating pad placed under the cage, ceramic infrared heat emitters or panels, or more expensive nighttime reptile incandescent light bulbs which produce heat, however little noticeable light, can be used. For larger enclosures, an area heater or different space thermostat can be used to keep the room at the suitable temperature. Smoke alarm ought to be placed in rooms where lights or other heat sources are used.

Secondary heat source:

A secondary heat source produces more heat in particular areas of the cage to supply a temperature gradient. To best supply this gradient, the secondary heat source ought to cover only 25-30% of the surface area of the enclosure. For adults, the secondary heat source could be a 30-75 watt incandescent bulb in a ceramic base, safely mounted where the animal can not touch it. There are likewise unique ‘basking lights’ readily available. Either type of light must shine down on a particular basking area from outside the cage. The temperature under the light in the area in which the Argentine Tegu would be basking must be 95-100 ° F. Hatchlings housed in smaller sized aquariums will need lights of lower wattage, or the fish tank temperature may become too warm very rapidly. DO NOT USE HOT ROCKS AS HEAT SOURCES.

Water and Humidity

Humidity in the enclosure need to be kept at 60-80%. Mist the enclosure frequently and use a substrate that will retain some wetness. The substrate in the conceal box can be misted more heavily. Screen humidity levels with a hygrometer to make sure they remain in the correct range. Humidity levels that are too low will cause shedding problems.


Orchid bark, cypress mulch, or other substrates that hold moisture are advised. The substrate must be something that your tegu can dig in, so prevent carpet or paper. It needs to be at least 6″ deep in the bottom of the enclosure to enable burrowing.


The cage and food and water bowls must be cleaned regularly with a 1:10 dilution of household bleach. Rinse the products well after cleansing. Argentine Black and White Tegus can harbor the bacteria Salmonella. Make certain to clean your hands after handling the tegu or its cage.


Argentine Black & White Tegus are omnivores, and their diet should include appropriately sized pests – consisting of crickets, mealworms, and waxworms, plus high calcium fruits. Avoid feeding them adult rodents routinely, as fur impactions could happen. All food should be cleaned with a reptile calcium supplement routinely and a vitamin supplement roughly once a week.

We advise that you constantly use a bowl when feeding your tegu. Feeding them from your hand can end up being complicated for them, and it can encourage food aggression that leads to them mistakenly biting you when trying to ingest the food.

D. Roberts (Junior Expert)/ author of the article

He is a specialist in the field of veterinary medicine, and pet care. Believes that the person responsible for each pet, which was taken into the house, and therefore should study his behavior, means of determining health status and methods of first aid.

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