Nickname/Age: 1 male-Otis (LV0160): DOB 6/1/2006
Description: Argentine Tegus are large stocky lizards with short necks. These Tegus have beaded scales and two rows of yellow dots running down each side of its back. Males are larger than females and can grow to a length of 4-½ feet, while females rarely grow larger than 3 feet. Males are also thicker and more muscular in build. Young tegus are green with black markings, and the green fades to white over the first few months of life. They have a moderate temperament and are very intelligent and inquisitive.
Habitat and Range: Live in a wide range of terrains from meadows to open forests in southern South America.
Diet in the Wild: Omnivores feeding mostly on vegetable matter. Feed on invertebrates such as insects and mollusks as well as vertebrates like small mammals, birds, and amphibians.
Diet in the Zoo: 2 mice or 2 chicks twice a week and a bowl of vegetables each day.
Predators: Predators of immature tegus include birds of prey, pumas, and snakes. Tegus are also hunted for their meat and leather.
Life Cycle and Social Structure: Tegus become sexually mature at 3 years of age. In the wild, they typically hibernate during the colder months from September to March. Their breeding season typically begins a few weeks after awakening from hibernation and lasts about a month. Tegus are oviparous and lay between 12 and 30 eggs. In captivity, black and white tegus can live 15-20 years.
Argentinian black and white tegus are generally calm and easy to handle. They enjoy interacting with humans and can become very attracted to their owners. Tegus can be kept in groups and will hibernate in groups in the wild. However, more than one male in a territory can lead to conflicts.
Status: Listed as CITES II as they are not currently threatened with extinction, but may become so if trade is not closely controlled.
Fun Facts: Black and white tegus are excellent swimmers that can stay underwater for long periods of time.