Black and White Argentine Tegu

Argentine Tegus are amazing animals and make very intelligent pets. However, they require a lot of care, space and patience. Tegus can also be very dangerous when they are grumpy.
Kilo - Turned in as a surrender when he was young, Kilo is growing up to be a wonderful addition to the group. He isn't quite ready for public events but he will start to make more appearances with the educational trailer.
Tesla - If you've ever seen us in public, you've fallen completely in love with Tesla! Our most famous tegu, Tesla goes to every event and educates thousands of children and adults every year.
Common Name: Black and White Argentine Tegu
Scientific Name: Salvator merianae
Type: Teiidae
Diet: Omnivore
Average Life Span: 20+ years
Size: Up to 4.5 feet in length
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern
Current Population Trend: Stable

About the Black and White Argentine Tegu

The Argentine black and white tegu, also called commonly the Argentine giant tegu, the black and white tegu, and the huge tegu, is a species of lizard in the family Teiidae. The species is the largest of the "tegu lizards". It is an omnivorous species which inhabits the tropical rain forests, savannas, and semi-deserts of eastern and central South America. Tegus are sometimes kept as pets. They are notable for their unusually high intelligence and can also be house-broken. Like other reptiles, tegus go into brumation in autumn when the temperature drops. They exhibit a high level of activity during their wakeful period of the year.

As hatchlings, Salvator merianae has an emerald green color from the tip of its snout to midway down its neck with black markings. The emerald green becomes black several months after shedding. A tegu can drop a section of its tail as a distraction if attacked. The tail is also used as a weapon to swipe at an aggressor; even a half-hearted swipe can leave a bruise. Tegus are capable of running at high speeds and can run on two legs for short distances. They often use this method in territorial defense, with the mouth open and front legs held wide to look more threatening.

Adult males are much larger than the females and can reach 3 ft in length at maturity. They may continue to grow to lengths of 4-4.5 ft. The females are much smaller, but may grow up to 3 ft in length, from nose to tail.

Salvator merianae has been shown to be one of the few partially warm-blooded lizards, having a temperature up to 18 °F higher than the ambient temperature at night time. However, unlike true endotherms such as mammals and birds, these lizards only display temperature control during their reproductive season (September to December), so are said to possess seasonal reproductive endothermy.

Tegus are omnivorous. Juvenile tegus in the wild have been observed to eat a wide range of invertebrates, including insects, spiders, and snails. They also eat fruits and seeds. As they grow they become more predatory and the protein content of their diet rises. In captivity, tegus commonly are fed high protein diets that include raw meat such as ground turkey, canned & dry dog food, Mazuri Crocodile diet, chicken, eggs, insects, and small rodents. The inclusion of fruit in the diet is recommended. Though some captive tegus do not readily eat fruit, others really enjoy banana, grapes, mango, and papaya.

In Captivity
Tegus make amenable pets, as they tend to become acclimated to their owners and are generally quite docile as adults. They are intelligent and can even be house-broken. A healthy tegu can live for 15 to 20 years in the wild, and possibly even longer in captivity. However, as with most reptiles, if they are not handled regularly, they show more aggressive behavior; their bite can be painful and damaging due to strong jaws (1000 N bite force, stronger than a dwarf caiman, partly due to the short, deep skull) and sharp incisor teeth in the upper jaw. Tegus do not produce venom. Tegus will perform a threat display if they are upset or stressed. The first stage is huffing, or very heavy breathing, which means be careful. Further interference causes the animal to start lashing its tail, somewhat like a moving snake. In wild animals, a third stage of stamping the front feet or "dancing" is seen. If these hints are ignored, then the tegu can charge and may bite, which will require hospital/veterinary attention depending on the victim.

Invasive Species
Argentine Tegus have taken up residency in Florida as an invasive species.

Source: Wikipedia