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Quite a bit of the Amazon basin
85o to 95o gradient, 100o plus for basking
Provide stout limbs and rocks to climb on
Needs a hide/humidity box
Provide a large water pan and mist often
Insects, fish, crayfish, rodents, birds, fruit
Calcium and vitamins
Low heat. Low humidity. Poor nutrition.
Origin: Tegus closely resemble (in appearance and requirements) the monitors from Africa and S.E. Asia. They come from quite a range in South America. The ones we get come mostly from Columbia. Happily, tegus stay much smaller than monitors.
Environment: Most tegus prefer to live on the ground, near water, in humid areas. Try to duplicate this in their living quarters.
Foods: Feed the small guys gut-loaded crickets, grasshoppers, pinkie mice, small fish, eggs and canned or frozen tegu food. Larger tegus eat goldfish, mice, crayfish, rats, eggs, and birds. If you give your tegu live rodents, you are asking for a scarred (and maybe scared) lizard. (You would stop eating bacon and tomato sandwiches if they bit your face.) Humanely killed rodents make a safer food choice. The new frozen tegu foods make feeding them even easier. Yes, tegus will eat canned dog food. So will people. In the wild, tegus eat whatever they can catch or find – insects, eggs, birds, rodents, crayfish, fish and oddly enough fruit.
Lighting: Like most reptiles, tegus need full-spectrum fluorescent lighting or daily sessions in real sunlight. The closer they can climb to your bulbs, the better your bulbs work. Set your timer on 12-hour days.
Supplements: Because baby tegus can grow so fast (as much as an inch a month), your baby tegu probably needs a calcium and vitamin supplement dusted on his food. If you give yours pinkies (baby rodents), you will meet many of his mineral and vitamin needs.
Heat: An under-cage heater plus a basking heat source make a good combination. Provide a range of temperatures. Incandescent lights make a good basking site.
Humidity Box: To get a good shed, tegus need a high humidity. They also like to get out of your sight occasionally. That’s why they crawl under their water bowl or dig into their substrate. Dampen their humidity box often. Poor sheds from low humidity can cause them to lose their toes.
Water: Tegus (and most big lizards) love soaking in their water. They also love turning over their water dishes. This also raises their humidity, but can make a mess. Use a very heavy water container. Most lizards defecate in their water. Change it daily.
Handling: Adult tegus can be hard to tame. The smallest ones are easier to work with. When you first get your tegu, you may need to use stout gloves to handle it. Some tegus never adjust to handling. If one of these guys runs out and bites you, you may inadvertently teach him to fly.
Wild Tegus: Untamed tegus will bite you, scratch you, and tail-slap you -- just like iguanas on a smaller but stronger scale. Snipping off the tips of their toenails helps. Putting your hand over then on top their head also helps. You’ll also notice they argue less at cooler temperatures.
Breeding: Expect a three-month hibernation period. Not many people manage to breed these critters.