Argentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merianae) (© Tom Friedel, WikiMedia Commons)

Scientific name: Tupinambis teguixin

Other common names: Common Tegu, Colombian Black and White Tegu, or Gold Tegu


Adults around 1 metre. Have been recorded up to 1.5 m.

Tegus are large powerfully built ground-dwelling lizards with stocky bodies, pointed snouts, short strong limbs and sharp claws. Though they rarely climb they are prodigious burrowers. Black tegus are attractively marked with bands and stripes of white on a shiny black dorsal surface. Older males often develop enormous heads and strong jaws. The long tongue is bright red and forked. Like monitors, the tail is not capable of regeneration if lost or damaged and is used as a fat reservoir.


South America. Tegus are the New World equivalent of monitors.



Freshly-killed small mammals are probably the best option though chicks can be fed. Eggs, invertebrates, fruits, leaves and some vegetable matter should be offered. Supplement. Young animals may be fed on large invertebrates (black crickets, locusts and giant mealworm). Feeding of tegus is rarely a problem. Obesity is common in captive teiids due to over-feeding and cage-induced lethargy.


Always provide tegus with the largest possible enclosure. A powerful heat source is essential. A sizeable water container is required (tegus are excellent swimmers; however a pool is not essential in tegu maintenance).

Being burrowers, a thick layer of substrate may be useful and provide ample hiding places. Various large branches and rocks should also be provided.

Humidity 70-85%


30-35ºC +/- 5ºC


Tegus may live for 10-12 years.

Literature Search

CABI logo.jpg

Use these links to find recent scientific publications via CAB Abstracts (log in required unless accessing from a subscribing organisation).

Black Tegu (Tupinambis teguixin) publications