Colombian Tegu Care sheet
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Colombian Black and White Tegus can make a great pet if the proper care is taken and knowledge is obtained. They have a reputation of being aggressive but can be tamed with plenty of handling. Tegus can be found throughout the Amazon Basin, especially in Colombia. The Black and White Tegu have black and white spots or stripes and reach a length of 3 to 3 ½ feet weighing in at 8 lbs. The Colombian Tegus are easily confused with the Argentine Tegu who have similar markings but have distinctive scales and grow slightly larger.
Young Tegus will do great in a 20 or 30 gallon aquarium or critter cage but will outgrow these enclosures relatively quick. Adult Tegus will require a minimum cage size of 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall. Unlike some lizards including the iguana, Tegus do not require a lot of height due to their terrestrial (ground dwelling) nature. I recommend a custom built cage as glass aquariums are very expensive and no basking shelf can be provided.
Colombian Tegus like to burrow so keep this in mind when deciding on a substrate (bedding). I personally recommend Cypress mulch due to the nice look, great smell and low cost. Cypress holds moisture to control your humidity and still allows for burrowing. Orchid bark, Lizard litter and Reptile bark can also be used but are much more expensive. Peat Moss can also be used and is relatively inexpensive but can be quite messy. At no time should you ever use cedar shavings or bark as they will be toxic to your Tegu.
UVA and UVB light are highly recommended for your Tegu and can be purchased at any pet store. These spectrum’s of light are essential for the production of vitamin D3.
Heating your Tegu enclosure can be achieved in any number of ways. I recommend using a ceramic heat emitter. Ceramic bulbs are the most efficient heaters and allow you to heat the cage with no light being dispersed. The temperature in you r cage should be around 85 degrees during the day with a basking spot of 100 to 110 degrees.
All Tegus are carnivorous from birth and will eat a plethora of items. They are also natural scavengers so almost anything will go. Some normal items include but are not limited to rodents (pinkies when young) small insects (not from the wild) canned dog and cat food, ground turkey and there is also a prepared Tegu diet you can purchase either on line or in a local pet store. Any uneaten food should be removed after your Tegu has had its fill.
I also recommend feeding your Tegu out of their enclosure. Colombian Tegus are known to be cage aggressive which means if you feed your Tegu in their cage at all times, every time you open that cage it will think it is feeding time and will mistake you for food.
Tegus require fresh water at ALL times and should be in a dish big enough for your Tegu to soak in.
You should handle your Colombian Tegu as often as possible. Colombians Tegus can be aggressive but with constant handling will be cuddling up beside you to watch TV.