If you fancy the job of a crocodile hunter but want to eliminate the danger to almost none, the tegu lizard is perfect for you. These exotic pet lizards “almost” resemble crocodiles but can be as docile and loyal as a dog, if properly socialized. Since tegus are exotic animals, taking care of them as pets need proper skills and serious commitment—and a comprehensive exotic pet insurance. Here are some things you have to know about taking care of exotic pet tegu lizard:
Pet Tegu Species and Description
There are three common tegu species in the pet trade today: Argentine black and white, Columbian black and white or gold and white, and the red tegu. Another tegu species that’s fast becoming the mainstream in pet tegu trade is the blue tegu.
Tegus resemble crocodiles with an iguana’s long tail and a monitor lizard’s head. They can grow to lengths of 3-4 feet and can live up to 10 years in captivity. These pet reptiles attract serious pet lovers with their amazing color patterns, especially the blue tegu.
Tegu Lizards as Exotic Pet
With a tegu’s long, sharp claws and sometimes naughty disposition, they are not advisable to have as children’s pet. They must be strictly for adults only. Properly socialized pet tegus, however, can be as docile as dogs. They can even be trained with a clicker and can be let in the backyard or park.
Housing Pet Tegu
Depending on where you live, you can house your exotic pet tegus indoor or outdoor; hint—these exotic animals live in the tropics. Regardless where you house them, the 4×8 feet enclosure of a couple of tegus should be at least 6 feet high: 2 feet buried below the ground and 4 feet above ground to cordon the exotic animals.
There should be a basking area, which is usually a big stone slab with a nice flat surface. The UVB indoor basking lamp that should be turned on 10-12 hours a day and should be able to produce 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The remaining area should be at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Encourage your exotic pet lizard to burrow by burrowing horizontally at least 4 feet, large enough corrugated, flexible plastic tubing in the ground. The tubing should be filled with dead leaves which should be kept moist. A couple of 1×1.5×2 feet nest boxes filled with moist dead leaves should also be provided for the lizards.
All exotic pet lizards love to soak in water; so a heavy, large and deep enough water dish should also be provided. Be sure to replace the water frequently because this serves as your exotic pet’s waterer too.
Feeding Exotic Pet Tegu
Adult tegus can eat chicken meat cut up in manageable sizes as staple food. For variety, they can eat lean beef, other poultry, and hardboiled egg. They must be given sweet fruits like bananas, cantaloupes, grapes, and pears too. Adult tegus can be fed once or twice a week, depending on the exotic animals’ condition. On the other hand, juveniles can be given pinkie mice or ground poultry every day.
You know your tegus are properly fed if you don’t see loose skin on its body. If you see leftovers on its feeder, it’s a good sign of over feeding too.
Taming Juvenile Tegus
Although you must avoid feeding tegus by your hands, you must handle your exotic pets from juvenile at least once a day to socialize them. Allow your pets to see you every day and climb on you for fun. The more time you can spend with your pet reptile, the better.
Determining the Sex of a Tegu
If you’re not planning to have a tegu litter, it’s best to house a couple of female tegus or tamed male tegus in one cage. The sex of a juvenile tegu can only be determined through probing, but the adult tegus can be sexed by inspecting some parts of their body.