We are taking care of the black and white Tegu. Its Latin name is tupinambis merianae, usually written t.meriane. Even within one reference book there are some irregularities… sometimes it’s written with ae or with an e. In contrast to a lot of other big lizards this one never loses its color or maculation. That’s why it’s very pretty even when it’s old. The Tegus, as they are called in most countries, come from South America and populate almost the whole country.
In Germany the term „Teju“ is mostly used for the black and white Tegu (tupinambis merianae).
The red Tegu (t. rufescens) and the black and yellow colored Tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), which is sold as the “Goldtegu” here, is less common.
Tegus belong to the family of whiptails (Teiidae) and those of the subgenus Tupinambis are the biggest lizards of the South American continent.
The range of this species is enormous… they populate pretty much the whole continent and therewith almost all climatic zones.
Teguses can be found in the wet jungle, as well as in the rather dry gras- and veld regions. This is why it’s so important to know the exact origin when you purchase a Tegu. That’s at least important for cases of import of wild creatures (very care), as even within the same race the range of the species can be very different. It may be possible, that you purchased a “veld-animal“… which would not feel all that great even in a GREAT jungle-terrarium. Unfortunately even the dealers do not necessarily know exactly where their Teguses are coming from.
Teguses are not always welcome guests in South America as they OMNIVOROUS ANIMALS. This feature makes them to abhorrent visitors among famers and gave them the name chicken-thief.
Everything that Teguses can defeat will be eaten by them. And with up to allegedly 160cm a lot of things are possible. My big one is now 143cm long and has a summer-weight of 6.5 kg. But I also know big ones which weigh up to 10kgs… although this kind of weight is often a problem of wrong keeping and feeding.
Besides humans, Teguses have almost no enemies (raptorial birds and crocodiles).
Humans use Teguses as a WHOLE.
1. For export to the whole world as an „animal"
2. For the jewelry-industry (type in Tegu on ebay)
3. For consumption (a friend says it tastes like chicken)
The strongest point however is probably the export of the Teguses’ skins.
MY Teguses are consistently NOT aggressive. However I try to pay attention to their distinct body language. A restive Tegu can immediately be identified as such and it should be left alone. .
BUT...big animals (mine at least) are very balanced… starting at the age of 3 years.