Argentine Black and White Tegu?

Argentine black and white tegus are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species due to their impacts to native wildlife. Like all nonnative reptile species, tegus are not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law and can be humanely killed on private property with landowner permission. This species can be captured and humanely killed year-round and without a permit or hunting license on 25 public lands in south Florida.

Female tegus reach reproductive maturity after their second year of brumation or when they are about 12 inches long from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. Females construct nests of dried vegetation, often at the base of trees, in clumps of tall grass or in burrows.

Tegus have an omnivorous diet and consume fruits, eggs, insects, and small animals including reptiles and rodents. The Argentine black and white tegu is native to South America where it can be found in Brazil, Paraguay, eastern Uruguay and northern Argentina. An emerging population was recently discovered in St. Lucie County after several confirmed reports were received through the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline.

Argentine black and white tegus have also been reported from other Florida counties, though these observations are most likely isolated occasions of escaped or released pets and not related to successful breeding populations. Adults have few predators and can give birth to large numbers of offspring per year, increasing the risk of populations spreading beyond their established ranges and impacting surrounding areas. The FWC works collaboratively with external agencies and partners to assess the threat of this species and further develop management strategies.

Keep attractants such as pet food inside and be sure to cover outdoor openings and clear your yard of debris to minimize hiding and burrowing areas for tegus.

Do Argentine black and white Tegus make good pets?

There are many types of tegu lizards however the most common species you will find available as pets are the gold (common) tegu, red tegu and Argentine black & white tegu. … The tegu has become a household favorite in reptile community for their docile and gentle nature, and for their strong connection to their owners.

Are Argentine Black and White Tegu aggressive?

Colombian tegus have a reputation for being difficult to tame, but Argentine tegus aren’t typically aggressive, and both will eventually tame down with patience and regular, gentle handling.

How much does a Argentine Black and White Tegu cost?

How Much Do Argentine Black and White Tegus Cost? Argentine Tegus from a breeder will often cost around $200 for a hatchling. You will often need to find a reputable breeder because these reptiles are not typical to find in a pet store.

How big do Argentine black and white Tegus get?

Argentine black and white tegus are large lizards that can reach nearly five feet in length.

The Argentine black and white tegu is a large lizard native to South America. These lizards are popular as pets because they have unusually high intelligence and can also be house-broken. As hatchlings, these tegus have an emerald green color from the tip of their snout to midway down their neck with black markings. The emerald green becomes black several months after shedding. As a young tegu, the tail is banded yellow and black; as it ages, the solid yellow bands nearest the body change to areas of weak speckling. Fewer solid bands indicate an older animal. 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. The females are usually much smaller than males. They have beaded skin and stripes running down their bodies.

However, if they are not handled regularly, they show more aggressive behavior; their bite can be painful and damaging due to strong jaws and sharp teeth. According to IUCN, the Argentine black and white tegu is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available.

Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable. Argentine black and white tegus eat fruits and thus play an important role in dispersing seeds throughout the habitat they live in.

Tegus will eat the eggs of ground-nesting birdsincluding quail and turkeysand other reptiles, such as American alligators and gopher tortoises, both protected species. They will also eat chicken eggs, fruit, vegetables, plants, pet food, carrion and small live animals, from grasshoppers to young gopher tortoises.

Growing up to 4 feet long and weighing 10 pounds or more, this lizard native to South America is an invasive species that threatens Georgia wildlife. Early detection, rapid response and public involvement are key to stopping tegus in the wild in Georgia.

DNRs Wildlife Resources Division, the U.S. Geological Survey and Georgia Southern University are trapping tegus, tracking sightings and assessing the population in the area of Tattnall and Toombs counties. In Toombs and Tattnall counties , keep pet food inside, fill holes that might serve as shelter and clear yards of debris such as brush piles that can provide cover for tegus. Black to dark gray with white speckled bands across the back and tail, these reptiles can weigh 10 pounds or more and live 20 years.

Georgias State Wildlife Action Plan emphasizes that invasive species are a significant problem for native animals and plants. DNR cannot say definitively but it is likely the tegus in Toombs and Tattnall originated with captive animals that either escaped or were released. While tegus are omnivores and eat a variety of plant and animal matter, they are not considered a threat to pet dogs and cats.

Floridas wildlife agencywhich has been dealing with tegus much longer than Georgia DNRis not aware of any predatory attacks on pets in that state. DNR is working with the U.S. Geological Society and Georgia Southern University to trap tegus in the area of Toombs and Tattnall counties, removing animals and assessing the population. Tegus are not native to Georgia and as a non-native species they can be killed on private property with the landowners permission and using legal methods in accordance with local ordinances, animal cruelty laws and safety precautions.

The Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae), can also be called the Argentine giant tegu, the black and white tegu, the huge tegu, and the lagarto overo in Spanish.[1] The Salvator merianae is a species of lizard in the family Teiidae. The species is the largest of the “tegu lizards”.[4] It is an omnivorous species which inhabits the tropical rain forests, savannas and semi-deserts of eastern and central South America.

Previous studies have found that the differing weather and climate patterns far outside of their natural habitat range do not prevent adult Argentine Black and White Tegus from surviving in diverse areas across the United States, furthering concerns about their invasive status. Juvenile tegus in the wild have been observed to eat a wide range of invertebrates including insects, annelids, crustaceans, spiders and snails.

In adulthood, tegus continue to eat insects and wild fruits and it is assumed that such components include desirable or essential nutrients. However, there is evidence that, as in most husbandry of carnivores, it is good practice to cook most of the egg in the diet, so as to denature the protein avidin that occurs in the albumen . In captivity, they have been observed eating various feeder insects like mealworms, superworms , earthworms, silkworms , crickets and cockroaches, as well as vertebrate prey like mice , rats, fish, turkey (offered in a ground form), rabbit, quail and chicks.

Like all lizards, blue tegus need a properly balanced diet; incomplete prey items such as insects or ground meat require dusting with a mineral/multi-vitamin supplement. Pigmentation of the ventral portion of the body occurs between days fifty-seven and sixty, characterized by individualized spot patterns. Squamate reptiles like snakes and lizards tend to rely on chemical cues to search for potential mates in their environments.

The Argentine black and white tegu exhibits similar behavior, such as a marked pausing and turning as they trail in the spring. They also exhibit more decisive behavior, demonstrating a common vertebrate trend of female reproduction being the defining factor in influencing population size. During maternal seasons, female Argentine black and white tegus build nests out of dry grass, small branches, and leaves in order to maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels.

For the Argentine tegu, the physical performance of their aggressive behavior (i.e. biting) tends to be hindered by their large size. Those with a higher bite force also exhibit less escape responses and tend to be slower, displaying a trade off of fight or flight abilities, but also have the advantage of minimizing risk of energy by reducing the threshold for engagement in an aggressive encounter. This fight or flight trade off is more commonly observed in mammals rather than reptiles, and may be present in tegus because of an increase in head mass (correlated to stronger biting behavior) that makes it difficult to maneuver quickly.

In their home territory, Argentine tegus are generally less aggressive (less likely to display arching behavior) and are less likely to attempt escape regardless of size or bite force. Notably, they mature early, reproduce annually, have large clutch sizes, and a relatively long life span compared to other competing species. Tegus in their native environment spend most of the colder months hibernating in their burrows without feeding but emerge in the spring for their mating season.

However, Argentine tegus only display this behavior for part of the year and behave as ectotherms for the rest (sunbathing, temperature reliant on environment). They are highly active throughout the day during warmer months (such as participating in reproductive endothermy during the spring) and experience drastic metabolic suppression during the winter. The Argentine black and white tegu is used to study the evolutionary history of shoulder joint locomotive muscles.

Because of its weight and heavy girth, it has unique modifications to its skeletal gait that help map the evolutionary history of the non-mammalian musculoskeletal structure. Some examples of proteins that they can be fed are live bugs such as meal and horn worms, dubia roaches, and crickets. They can also be fed bananas, apples, kiwis, pears, pumpkins, melons, peas, squash, apricots, mangos, figs, papaya, cantaloupe, and grapes.

Even immature animals can be easily distinguished from other mostly black and white tegus by the “singe mark” on their nose. Some believe it is a mutation of the Argentine black and white tegu, while others, including the original importer, [35] believe it is sufficiently different to have its own classification. Use only organic substrates, as anything with pesticides or additives, much like what you would commonly find at a hardware store, will cause many health issues with your tegu, including death.

Some tegu species are also known to enjoy swimming and, since they grow to about 1 metre (1 yd) long or more, a medium-sized to large cat litter box can be used as an appropriately sized water dish. Never allow the water level to be above shoulder height for a tegu, as many tegus commonly drown when left without supervision. The Argentine black and white tegu has long been hunted for their skins to supply the international leather trade.

The Argentine Black and White Tegu has been a particular threat to native wildlife like birds and reptiles that build nests or burrows on the ground. Argentine tegus will pursue and kill but not eat other native reptiles, which worsens their invasive effect on wildlife. Efforts such as placing traps or localized hunting have been largely unsuccessful in eradicating their egregious effect on non-native environments.

Because of their invasive threat to native and imperiled species, population containment initiatives have been a priority in the past ten years, leading to the extraction of nearly 3,300 tegus from Miami-Dade County alone. Historically, tegus have survived brutalizing harvests amid the leather trade, marking them a remarkably resilient species. In the ecotone between the arid Chaco and the Espinal of central Argentina, they are known to naturally hybridise with the red tegu ( Salvator rufescens ) with a stable hybrid zone .

“The trigeminal jaw adductor musculature of Tupinambis , with comments on the phylogenetic relationships of the Teiidae (Reptilia, Lacertilia)”. “Argentine Black and White Tegu (Salvator merianae) can survive the winter under semi-natural conditions well beyond their current invasive range” . “A New Species of Tupinambis (Squamata: Teiidae) from Central Brazil, with an Analysis of Morphological and Genetic Variation in the Genus”.

“Effects of Season, Temperature, and Body Mass on the Standard Metabolic Rate of Tegu Lizards ( Tupinambis merianae )”. ^ Richard, Shannon A.; Bukovich, Isabella M. G.; Tillman, Eric A.; Jayamohan, Sanjiv; Humphrey, John S.; Carrington, Paige E.; Bruce, William E.; Kluever, Bryan M.; Avery, Michael L.; Parker, M. Rockwell (12 August 2020). “Conspecific chemical cues facilitate mate trailing by invasive Argentine black and white tegus” .

^ Herrel, Anthony; Andrade, Denis V.; de Carvalho, Jos Eduardo; Brito, Ananda; Abe, Augusto; Navas, Carlos (November 2009). ^ Braga, Caryne; de Oliveira Drummond, Leandro; Dawn Henry, Malinda; Azevedo Khaled, Fbio; Rojas Arias, Juan D.; Ruiz-Miranda, Carlos R.; Rodrigues Gonalves, Pablo (July 2020). ^ Tattersall, Glenn J.; Leite, Cleo A. C.; Sanders, Colin E.; Cadena, Viviana; Andrade, Denis V.; Abe, Augusto S.; Milsom, William K. (22 January 2016).

^ Zena, Lucas A.; Dillon, Danielle; Hunt, Kathleen E.; Navas, Carlos A.; Buck, C. Loren; Bcego, Knia C. (1 January 2020). “Hormonal correlates of the annual cycle of activity and body temperature in the South-American tegu lizard (Salvator merianae)”. Tattersall, Glenn J.; Leite, Cleo A. C.; Sanders, Colin E.; Cadena, Viviana; Andrade, Denis V.; Abe, Augusto S.; Milsom, William K. (22 January 2016).

^ “First sighting of black and white tegu lizard confirmed in Midlands – South Carolina Department of Natural Resources” .

Regulatory Status

Argentine black and white tegus are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species due to their impacts to native wildlife. Like all nonnative reptile species, tegus are not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law and can be humanely killed on private property with landowner permission. This species can be captured and humanely killed year-round and without a permit or hunting license on 25 public lands in south Florida.
Tegus (all species within genera Salvator and Tupinambis) were added to Florida’s Prohibited species list. Learn how this impacts pet owners and other entities.

Description

Argentine black and white tegus are large lizards that can reach nearly five feet in length. They have a mottled black and white coloration that often is arranged into a banding pattern across the back and tail. Hatchlings display similar markings, but typically have bright green heads. The green coloration fades after they reach about one month of age.In both its native and introduced range, the Argentine black and white tegu is found in savannas and disturbed habitats such as forest clearings, roadsides and fence rows. They are terrestrial lizards that rarely climb more than a few feet off the ground, but they are strong swimmers. Tegus can tolerate marine and freshwater habitats, such as flooded marshes.During winter months, tegus retreat into burrows while they undergo a hibernation-like period known as brumation. In south Florida, they typically begin to emerge from their burrows in February.Tegu breeding in Florida begins in early spring. Female tegus reach reproductive maturity after their second year of brumation or when they are about 12 inches long from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. They lay an average of 35 eggs per year. Females construct nests of dried vegetation, often at the base of trees, in clumps of tall grass or in burrows. Eggs incubate for approximately 60 days and require stable temperatures for successful hatching. After hatching, juvenile tegus grow quickly. Tegus may live up to 20 years.

Diet

Tegus have an omnivorous diet and consume fruits, eggs, insects, and small animals including reptiles and rodents. They are efficient egg predators that will consume the eggs of ground-nesting birds and reptiles. They may also consume pet food that has been left outdoors.Tegus are known egg-eaters and in Florida, they have been documented consuming American alligator eggs. They may also impact other ground-nesting native wildlife such as the gopher tortoise, American crocodile, sea turtles and ground-nesting birds. Tegus have also consumed gopher tortoise hatchlings in Florida.

Native Range

The Argentine black and white tegu is native to South America where it can be found in Brazil, Paraguay, eastern Uruguay and northern Argentina.

Florida Distribution

Reproducing populations of Argentine black and white tegus are established in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade and Charlotte Counties. An emerging population was recently discovered in St. Lucie County after several confirmed reports were received through the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline. Managers and researchers believe these populations occurred through escapes or intentional captive animal or pet releases. Argentine black and white tegus have also been reported from other Florida counties, though these observations are most likely isolated occasions of escaped or released pets and not related to successful breeding populations. Some limited observations of red tegus and gold tegus have also been recorded in Florida.See where this species has been reported in Florida.

Potential Impacts

Potential impacts of tegus include competition with and preying upon Florida’s native wildlife, including some imperiled and protected species. Tegus prey upon the nests of other animals, and researchers have documented tegus eating American alligator eggs and disturbing American crocodile nests in Florida. Recent gut content analysis of tegus by the FWC revealed that they consume Threatened juvenile gopher tortoises and agriculturally valuable foods, highlighting the impact this species may have on sensitive wildlife and agricultural lands.Though current population estimates are not available for this species, evidence suggests possible expansion of their populations in Florida. Adults have few predators and can give birth to large numbers of offspring per year, increasing the risk of populations spreading beyond their established ranges and impacting surrounding areas.

Invasive Lizards Threaten Native Georgia Wildlife

DNR and partners are working to eradicate a wild population of Argentine black and white tegus in Toombs and Tattnall counties in southeast Georgia.Growing up to 4 feet long and weighing 10 pounds or more, this lizard native to South America is an invasive species that threatens Georgia wildlife.Tegus will eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds—including quail and turkeys—and other reptiles, such as American alligators and gopher tortoises, both protected species. They will also eat chicken eggs, fruit, vegetables, plants, pet food, carrion and small live animals, from grasshoppers to young gopher tortoises.There are concerns, as well, that tegus could spread exotic parasites to native wildlife and cause bacterial contamination of crops. Research shows that these reptiles, like most, carry salmonella.Early detection, rapid response and public involvement are key to stopping tegus in the wild in Georgia.DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, the U.S. Geological Survey and Georgia Southern University are trapping tegus, tracking sightings and assessing the population in the area of Tattnall and Toombs counties.

Why are tegus a concern in Georgia?

Tegus are not native to our state and have been known to eat native species including the eggs of alligators and threatened wildlife, such as hatchling gopher tortoises. Tegus may be more cold tolerant than other reptile species and more likely to spread throughout the state.There are concerns, as well, that tegus could spread exotic parasites to native wildlife and cause bacterial contamination of crops. Research shows that these reptiles, like most, carry salmonella.Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan emphasizes that invasive species are a significant problem for native animals and plants. Invasives compete with native wildlife for food and other resources. They can cause habitat damage and transmit diseases and parasites. In many cases, they also prey on native wildlife. The Wildlife Action Plan is a comprehensive strategy for conserving wildlife and their habitats statewide.

How widespread are tegus in Georgia?

Georgia’s only known wild population is in Toombs and Tattnall counties. In 2018, DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, working with DNR Law Enforcement, began investigating reports of Argentine black and white tegus in eastern Toombs and western Tattnall.

How did they get here?

DNR cannot say definitively but it is likely the tegus in Toombs and Tattnall originated with captive animals that either escaped or were released.

Are tegus a threat to pets?

While tegus are omnivores and eat a variety of plant and animal matter, they are not considered a threat to pet dogs and cats. Florida’s wildlife agency—which has been dealing with tegus much longer than Georgia DNR—is not aware of any predatory attacks on pets in that state. However, DNR advises against leaving pet food outdoors: It can attract tegus and other wildlife to your yard.

Can tegus be owned as pets?

Tegus are legal in Georgia to own as pets and they are popular in the pet trade. But it is illegal to release any non-native animal into the wild without a permit.

Argentine black and white tegu

TheTegus are sometimes kept as pets by humans. They are notable for their unusually high intelligence and can also be housebroken. 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.Tegus fill ecological niches similar to those of monitor lizards, but are only distantly related to them; the similarities are an example of convergent evolution.

Description[edit]

As a hatchling,Tegus are capable of running at high speeds and can run bipedally 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 feet (91 cm) in length at maturity. They may continue to grow to lengths of 4–4.5 feet (120–140 cm).The females are much smaller, but may grow up to 3 feet (91 cm) in length from nose to tail. They have beaded skin and stripes running down their bodies. Adult females can reach a weight of 2.5–7.0 kilograms (5.5–15.4 lb).The skull is heavily built with a large facial process of the maxilla, a single premaxilla, paired nasals, a single frontal bone and two parietal bones separated by the sagittal suture. Biomechanical analyses suggest the posterior processes of the parietal might be important for dealing with torsional loads due to posterior biting on one side.

Sex[edit]

When a tegu reaches the age of 8 months, the beginning of their juvenile age, their sex can easily be determined visually; their vent at the base of the tail will bulge when it is a male and lie flat when it is a female. Breeders generally inform the buyer on the sex of the animal before the purchase. In adults, the main difference is in the jowls; adult males have substantially developed jowls (a result of hypertrophic lateral pterygoideus muscles

Epidemiology[edit]

Salmonella enterica was found in fecal samples from almost all S. merianae at a captive breeding field station at State University of Santa Cruz, Ilhéus, Bahia state, Brazil

Habitat and Distribution[edit]

Tegus have also been found in scrub and wet habitats such as flooded savannas, canals, ponds, and streams. They largely seem indiscriminate of habitat type as long as they have the ability to burrow.

Diet[edit]

Tegus are omnivorous. Juvenile tegus in the wild have been observed to eat a wide range of invertebrates including insects, annelids, crustaceans,In captivity, tegus commonly are fed high protein diets that include raw or cooked flesh such as ground turkey, canned and dry dog food, commercial 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 enjoy bananas, grapes, mangoes and papayas.As adults, they have blunted teeth and exaggerated lateral pterygoid muscles which allow them to be generalist feeders. In captivity, they have been observed eating various feeder insects like mealworms, superworms, earthworms, silkworms, crickets and cockroaches, as well as vertebrate prey like mice, rats, fish, turkey (offered in a ground form), rabbit, quail and chicks. Crustaceans such as crayfish are also readily consumed. Like all lizards, blue tegus need a properly balanced diet; incomplete prey items such as insects or ground meat require dusting with a mineral/multi-vitamin supplement. Vitamin deficiencies can lead to trouble shedding skin, lethargy and weight loss; a calcium deficiency can lead to metabolic bone disease, which can be fatal.Tegus are notorious egg predators which makes them a concerning rising predator of sea turtles, alligators, and crocodiles as their invasive populations spread across the United States.Tegus will eat anything from plants to hatchlings, but their diet varies by season. Small vertebrate prey is more common in the spring while plantlife and invertebrates are more commonly consumed in the summer.

Life Cycle[edit]

Argentine black and white tegu lizards are typically born at the beginning of spring. When they hatch they are about ten grams and grow up to eight kilograms within four or five years, experiencing a nearly eight-hundred-fold increase in body size. During this time their diet changes from insects to small vertebrates, eggs, carrion, and fruits. They are reproductively mature by their third year (when they are around 1.5 kilograms), and cease their growth by around their fourth year with the highest growth rate being their first and second years of life. Tegu lizards also experience a seasonal circadian life cycle that begins within their first year, being very active during hotter months and in a hibernative state in the colder months. However, regardless of the season the Argentine tegu does not experience any significant fluctuations in metabolism or body mass, which means their sensitivity to temperature underlying their metabolic rate does not change body mass. This differs from other endotherms and further explains the tegu’s alternating endothermic and ectothermic behavior.Brain vesicles (constructed from two neural tube constrictions) that make up the anterior forebrain, midbrain, and posterior hindbrain are developed and distinguishable from day three of embryonic development. On day four, visceral arches (consisting of mesenchymal tissue condensation and separated by grooves) form and are fully grown and fused by day nine. Day four also marks the development of limbs as small swellings. Its hindlimb development (developing claws faster than the forelimb) is more similar to crocodile or turtle embryonic development than other lizards. This alludes to the hindlimbs having greater functionality in tegu adults. Pigmentation is the last morphological structure to form and occurs late in development after other distinguishing characteristics have already been formed (such as scales). Pigmentation is observed from day thirty-nine first on the dorsal portion of the head and body. It later extends down to the proximal and distal portions of the limbs by day forty-five and extends down to the flanks by day forty-eight. As development advances, the pattern begins to show lateral stretch marks by day fifty-one. Pigmentation of the ventral portion of the body occurs between days fifty-seven and sixty, characterized by individualized spot patterns. Paired genital tubercles manifest in both sexes (called hemipenes in males). Reptile embryo development involves separate processes of differentiation and embryo growth. Differentiation is determined by external morphological features and is documented early. As the embryo approaches hatching, development stages are categorized into periods rather than ages (characterized by parameters of development speed).

Reproduction[edit]

Squamate reptiles like snakes and lizards tend to rely on chemical cues to search for potential mates in their environments. The Argentine black and white tegu exhibits similar behavior, such as a marked “pausing and turning” as they trail in the spring. In particular, female tegus exhibit stronger trailing behavior than males, following scent trails more intensely and expressing a more sensitive response to mating-specific chemical odors. They also exhibit more decisive behavior, demonstrating a common vertebrate trend of female reproduction being the defining factor in influencing population size. Knowledge of this behavior is currently being explored as a strategic avenue to inhibit the current rise of the tegu as an invasive species. Prioritizing the removal of female tegus from the environment can potentially be a more effective way to curb these invasive populations. Tegus are a burrowing species in both their native and invasive habitats, especially during the winter. They mate during the spring after hibernating when their mating hormones are at their peak. During the spring, male Argentine tegus exhibit scent-marking behaviors such as delineating territory with gland scents.Blue tegus, like other tegus, may breed up to twice a year. They only lay between 18 and 25 eggs in a clutch, sometimes more dependent upon animal size and husbandry as well as the individual health of the gravid female.During maternal seasons, female Argentine black and white tegus build nests out of dry grass, small branches, and leaves in order to maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels. Egg incubation lasts for an average of sixty-four days, with a range of forty to seventy-five days depending on incubation temperature and other extenuating factors.

Aggression[edit]

Aggression is a vital facet to animal behavior as it provides advantages to survival when resources are limited. For the Argentine tegu, the physical performance of their aggressive behavior (i.e. biting) tends to be hindered by their large size. Regardless of sex, tegus with higher bite force are more aggressive to potential threats. Those with a higher bite force also exhibit less escape responses and tend to be slower, displaying a trade off of fight or flight abilities, but also have the advantage of minimizing risk of energy by reducing the threshold for engagement in an aggressive encounter. This fight or flight trade off is more commonly observed in mammals rather than reptiles, and may be present in tegus because of an increase in head mass (correlated to stronger biting behavior) that makes it difficult to maneuver quickly. In their home territory, Argentine tegus are generally less aggressive (less likely to display arching behavior) and are less likely to attempt escape regardless of size or bite force.

Enemies[edit]

Predators of tegus include cougars, jaguars, otters, snakes and birds of prey. A known predator of the Argentine black and white tegu is the lesser grison (

Invasive Advantage[edit]

Physiologically, tegus possess traits that correlate well with their extreme success as an invasive species. Notably, they mature early, reproduce annually, have large clutch sizes, and a relatively long life span compared to other competing species. Out of the Teiidae family, tegus tend to grow to the largest body sizes (around five kilograms). Tegus are also omnivorous and consume everything from fruits, invertebrates, small vertebrates, eggs, and carrion. Their large dietary breadth also contributes to their high survival rate outside of their native habitat. Tegus are active on a seasonal schedule. They avoid dangerously cold or dry climates by hibernating underground. Additionally, they are capable of utilizing endothermy to elevate their body temperatures in response to their environment. Thus, it is unlikely that any habitat however different from their native environment would be unsuitable for a thriving tegu population.

Endothermic Behavior[edit]

Tegus in their native environment spend most of the colder months hibernating in their burrows without feeding but emerge in the spring for their mating season. While hibernating, their metabolism generates heat that maintains their temperature a few degrees above the burrow temperature, marking them as partial endotherms. This self-reliant endothermic behavior continues into the reproductive season. However, Argentine tegus only display this behavior for part of the year and behave as ectotherms for the rest (sunbathing, temperature reliant on environment). This endothermic behavior is also not a sex-biased evolutionary adaptation for egg production as both males and females indiscriminately exhibit this behavior.The Argentine tegu experiences significant shifts in metabolism and body temperature by season. They are highly active throughout the day during warmer months (such as participating in reproductive endothermy during the spring) and experience drastic metabolic suppression during the winter.

Locomotion[edit]

The Argentine black and white tegu is used to study the evolutionary history of shoulder joint locomotive muscles. Because of its weight and heavy girth, it has unique modifications to its skeletal gait that help map the evolutionary history of the non-mammalian musculoskeletal structure.

As household pets[edit]

When black and white tegu are kept as pets, they can be fed proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Some examples of proteins that they can be fed are live bugs such as meal and horn worms, dubia roaches, and crickets. Other sources of protein include canned insects, scrambled or hard boiled eggs, snails, ducklings, chicks, boiled organ meats, shrimp, mice, or rats that are either alive or have been previously frozen and then thawed. The black and white tegu may be fed fruits and vegetables as well. For example, they can be fed berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. They can also be fed bananas, apples, kiwis, pears, pumpkins, melons, peas, squash, apricots, mangos, figs, papaya, cantaloupe, and grapes.

Blue tegu[edit]

TheThe coloring of a blue tegu can range from a simple black and white color to albino to powder blue to even “platinum”, which is basically a high white color morph. The colouration does not tend to appear until the animal reaches sexual maturity around the age of 18 months or it reaches 2 feet (61 cm) or more in size. Just like the Argentine black and white tegu, the blue tegu has a very quick growth rate, almost reaching 75% of its full length in 1 year. Their adult length can vary from 2.5 feet (76 cm) in adult females to sometimes even longer than 4 feet (122 cm) in adult males. Unlike other lizards, these are very heavily built animals, ranging from 7 to 12 pounds (3.2 to 5.4 kg) or more when fully grown. Size is relative to genetics as well as husbandry and diet.

Captive husbandry[edit]

To accommodate their size, a lone adult should be housed in nothing smaller than a 6 feet (183 cm) × 3 feet (91 cm) × 2 feet (61 cm) size cage, with the largest floor size possible. A pair of adults need double that size. They must have a lot of floor space. About six inches of substrate should be used to allow for burrowing, as well as a substrate that holds humidity well. Most owners use cypress mulch mixed with coconut fiber, as it retains humidity extremely well and is commercially available. Use only organic substrates, as anything with pesticides or additives, much like what you would commonly find at a hardware store, will cause many health issues with your tegu, including death. A good UVA and UVB bulb is imperative to keeping a tegu in good health. They need UVB to produce Vitamin D in their bodies, as well as metabolizing calcium. If they are not allowed exposure to UVB on a daily basis, they can experience severe pain and/or deformities from diseases such as metabolic bone disease. Along with UVB, a blue tegu also needs a temperature gradient. This means that one side of the cage must be cooler, while the other is much warmer and provides a basking spot. This is so they can regulate their body temperature by going to whatever temperature works for them at the moment. Ambient temperatures on the cooler side should be around 75 °F (24 °C) and the warmer side should be about 90 °F (32 °C). They also need the surface of their basking spot to meet specific temperature requirements. For juveniles and younger tegus, they need it around 100 °F (38 °C), though, as they get older, it can go up to 110–120 °F (43–49 °C). For healthy shedding, a humidity of 60-80% is preferred.Like most lizards, fresh water should be provided daily. Like other tegu species, you should make sure your Argentine black and white tegu has enough water to soak in if they wish. Some tegu species are also known to enjoy swimming and, since they grow to about 1 metre (1 yd) long or more, a medium-sized to large cat litter box can be used as an appropriately sized water dish. Never allow the water level to be above shoulder height for a tegu, as many tegus commonly drown when left without supervision.

Legality[edit]

On May 28, 2021 the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources banned importation and breeding, and requires registration of lack and white tegus already in South Carolina.

Leather Trade[edit]

The Argentine black and white tegu has long been hunted for their skins to supply the international leather trade. They are one of the most exploited reptile species in the world, but trade is legal in most South American countries. It is not an endangered species and overharvesting has not as of yet been monitored.

Distribution[edit]

As the name would suggest, this tegu is native to Argentina, but also to Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Invasive distribution[edit]

Argentine black and white tegus have also escaped from the pet trade in FloridaThe Argentine Black and White Tegu has been a particular threat to native wildlife like birds and reptiles that build nests or burrows on the ground. Notably, they exhibit a particular type of both predatory and competitive behavior known as intraguild predation. Argentine tegus will pursue and kill but not eat other native reptiles, which worsens their invasive effect on wildlife. Efforts such as placing traps or localized hunting have been largely unsuccessful in eradicating their egregious effect on non-native environments.Because of their invasive threat to native and imperiled species, population containment initiatives have been a priority in the past ten years, leading to the extraction of nearly 3,300 tegus from Miami-Dade County alone. Unfortunately such efforts have been difficult. Historically, tegus have survived brutalizing harvests amid the leather trade, marking them a remarkably resilient species.

See also[edit]

In 1839, this species of tegu was originally described asIn the ecotone between the arid Chaco and the Espinal of central Argentina, they are known to naturally hybridise with the red tegu (