Our Animals

Argentine Black and White Tegu

Meet Hermione

 

Hermione is our feisty and charismatic Argentine black and white tegu! Tegus are types of lizards and can grow to be pretty big. When Hermione (lovingly nicknamed Herm or Hermi) first came to us she was no larger than the length of your hand. However, after about a year and a half of growing she became almost three feet long! While she may not get much bigger, a male tegu could grow to over four feet long. When she was a baby, we thought that she was a boy. Oops! Being able to tell the sex of some reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds and mammals can sometimes be difficult as their reproductive organs are not always visible. However, as Hermione (previously known as Herman) grew and grew we realized that she looked much more like a lady lizard! Male tegus don’t just grow to be longer, they also have large jowls and bigger muscles. For the Argentine black and white tegu, bigger jowls mean you are one handsome fella.

Life in South America

 

Argentine black and white tegus are a native species to many parts of southern South America such as meadows, savannahs, and some forested areas. These tegus tend to live a terrestrial life style, but they are excellent swimmers! They grow very quickly reaching their full size and sexual maturity at three years. The females can then lay anywhere between ten and thirty eggs. During winter months, these tegus go into something similar to hibernation called brumation. The tegus will burrow underground until they are ready to come out as it warms up.  

Argentine black and white tegus are generalized omnivores. This means that they can eat just about anything from small insects to rodents and all sorts of plant matter. At Bearizona, Hermione loves blueberries and ground chicken. She will also chow down on super worms, lettuce, crickets, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, hard boiled eggs, pinky mice, strawberries, and more! These lizards really do eat just about anything.

While these tegus are native to South America, they can also be found in areas like Florida and Georgia. Argentine black and white tegus became very popular in the pet trade. However, many individuals who adopt these lizards don’t know what to expect from them. When Hermione came to us, as mentioned earlier, she was no longer than my hand, but reached two feet in length when she turned a year old. These lizards require a lot of space to be cared for properly. They also need correct heat lighting, UVB lighting, a gradient heat area, and carefully prepared diets. Furthermore, in captivity these tegus can live to be fifteen to twenty years old. Because many individuals did not know how to care for these very intelligent and hefty tegus many were released into the wild. This led to the black and white tegu being listed as an invasive nonnative species that eats and out competes many native species of wildlife in Florida and Georgia. So please remember, while Hermione is very special indeed, do your research before getting a pet. It will make life for you and your new family member much, much easier!

 

Common Name Argentine Black and White Tegu

Scientific Name Salvator merianae

Type Reptile

Status Least Concern

Diet Generalized omnivore

Geographic Range South American

Offspring 10 - 30 eggs