Kookie Critter – the Tegu Lizard

IMG_5018 tegu with tongue

Today, we are going to explore another wonderfully weird pet – the Tegu Lizard.

The Tegu got its name from the Latin-American Indian word meaning, ”Lizard.’  

Let’s learn more about this “kookie” reptile.

Fast Fun Facts About the Tegu Lizard

  • Tegus are large lizards with a reputation for being powerful and sometimes aggressive.  
  • Can grow up to 3.5 feet in length and weigh up to 8 pounds.  
  • The largest known Tegu was just over 5 feet long and weighed in at 15 pounds  
  • They have long tongues that are used for smelling similar to a snake

In the wild, the Tegu lizard in omnivorous which means they eat both plant and animals. In fact, Tegus have been spotted raiding beehives for the sweet honey inside as well as taking down poisonous snakes.

The Pet Tegu Lizard

for saleTegus are kept as pets as they are relatively easy to handle and seem to enjoy the company of humans. However, proper care must be given to these reptiles.

First, you have to remember this lizard can grow larger than most domesticated reptiles. As the lizard grows, custom built cages are recommended. Also, this animal needs to be properly heated and have a water source.

Their diet in captivity should consist of meats, like mice and eggs, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables. Younger Tegu should be fed insects such as crickets, roaches, mealworms, and waxworms. Vitamin supplements such as Calcium for proper bone development is also highly recommended.

The Problem With the Tegu


With more and more people taking on the Tegu lizard has a pet, more of these lizards are being released back into the wild after the owners grow tired of them.

Florida is not their native home, yet Tegus have been seen along the Tampa area and in southern Miami.  

Farm areas near Homestead and on the fringe of Everglades National Park have seen more and more Tegus. This is a problem as the Tegu will start to feed on their ecosystem, disturbing many ground-layer nests such as crocodiles and a variety of birds.

Before you take one of these creatures into your home, do your research and make sure you can handle the requirements of your Tegu.

Talk to a reputable breeder and learn all you can before you make the purchase. These lizards can and do make good pets, but only if you handle them with respect and the care they deserve.

What do you think of the Tegu? Would you like one for a pet?

Print and color your own Tegu – Tegu Coloring Page pdf

Categories: Reptiles

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