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Columbian Tegu Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for Tegus

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.56    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 01/31/2005

Main Category:


Sub Category:


 Care Sheet Submitted By:

Dr. Tegu

Years Experience:

5 to 10 Years


Columbian Tegu

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

Tupinambis teguixin or your Basic Tegu

Sexing and Characteristics:

The common tegu has black and white stripes or spots with smooth scales and are similar in build to monitor species. Care should be taken to not confuse the Colombian black and white tegu with the Argentine black and white tegu (T. merianae). The Argentine tegu is larger and (reaching up to 4.5 feet in length) and often have a more distinctive striped pattern. Tegus should not be confused as monitors, which are strictly and old world species. Tegus fill the same ecological niche as monitors and are an example of convergent evolution.

Mostly Active During:


Substrate and Water Needs:

Colombian tegus like to burrow and will appreciate a substrate that they can burrow through. Care should be used when selecting a substrate because some substrates may cause impaction, especially in juveniles. Substrates like newspaper and indoor-outdoor carpeting are easy to clean but do not allow for burrowing. Substrate like peat moss and/or vermiculite holds humidity very well and provides for burrowing but can be very messy. Under no circumstances should cedar be used, since it has been proved to be toxic. Pine shavings are also not recommended. I recommend Eco Earth or cypress mulch

Lighting and UVB:

Both UVA and UVB light is recommended for Colombian tegus. Heat can be provided with infrared heat bulbs, basking bulbs, or ceramic emitters. Heat pads are also recommend, because they like to burrow into the substrate, a few inches down.

Temperatures and Humidity:

The Colombian tegu is a tropical species and needs be kept warm with a fairly stable temperature gradient. Ambient temperature should be approximately 85 F with a basking spot of 100 to 110 F. Nighttime temperatures should be about 75 F. Once again since they are a tropical species humidity should be at least 45% and greater is usually preferred.

Heating and Equipment:

A UVB light and a 100 watt bulb are necessary. Also a heat pad is recommend.

Caging Provided:

Adult Colombian tegus require a large enclosure. Generally the enclosure should be at least six feet in length and three feet in width. These lizards are primarily terrestrial and do not necessarily require a large vertical space to climb. A good general rule of thumb for an enclosure should be twice the length of the animal in length and the length of the animal in width. Tegus enjoy soaking and the occasional swim, so a large water dish that they can soak themselves should be provided. A hide box should also be provided at all times. A juvenile can be keep in a 20 gallon and as it grows, you MUST upgrade.



Description of Diet:

Colombian tegus are natural scavengers as well as predators. As such they require a large and varied diet. Tegus can be fed rodents, small insects (such as crickets, meal worms, and others), canned high quality dog or cat food or even commercially prepared tegu diet. Ground turkey can also be used as well. Unlike monitors, tegus do require fruits as part of their diet. As much as half the diet for adult tegus can consist of fruits. Juvenile tegus generally will require more protein than adults. A good reptile multi-vitamin is also suggested to help keep the lizard healthy. As with all captive animals live or wild prey is not recommended due to the risk of injury and parasites to the animal. When feeding tegus it is not recommended to use your hands because they will often associate your hands with food and can become hazardous to handle. When feeding use tongs or a tray to avoid this problem.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

Repti-cal or another calcium supplement, along with a good multi-vitamin


The enclosure should be spot cleaned daily and disinfected weekly. If using indoor/outdoor carpeting it is recommended to have at least two sets for ease of cleaning. This will allow you to simply swap the clean carpeting for the soiled so you may clean it. A 5% bleach solution is an excellent disinfectant. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the enclosure and carpeting before placing the tegu back. The water dish should be emptied and cleaned daily as soaking tegus will often defecate in the water dish.

Some Words on this Species:

Other references

Temelli, Pinar. "Monitors & Tegus And Lizards." Retrieved 18 January 2002

Flank Jr., Lenny. "Captive Care of the Tegu Lizard." Retrieved 19 January 2002
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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