Skip to content
Home » Friendly tegu species for beginners

Friendly tegu species for beginners

Tegu lizards are notoriously docile and somewhat beginner-friendly reptiles to keep as pets (at least compared to other big lizards like monitors). There are however a few different species and morphs which may require more time and attention.

As a rule of thumb, the salvator merianae (a.k.a. Argentine tegu) is the best choice for first timers and also the most common overall. The Colombian tegu (or Gold tegu) on the other hand is known to be more of a challenge due to its temperament.

Below, a comprehensive list of the easiest to keep tegu lizards, ranked by difficulty.

Colombian tegu vs Red tegu vs Argentine tegu

Easiest tegus to care for

Blue Tegu

1# Blue tegu

Species: salvator merianae
Difficulty: Easy
Size: 2 to 4 feet
Enclosure size: 6x3x3+
Diet: Omnivore

The blue tegu is a morph of the Argentine black and white tegu with all the benefits of this docile species, plus they tend to be much more compact in size. The need for a smaller enclosure really brings the costs of setup, heating and lighting down, and makes cleaning and maintainance easier. Blue tegus are easily the best choice for first timers.

Argentine Black and White Tegu

2# Black and white tegu

Species: salvator merianae
Difficulty: Easy
Size: 3 to 5 feet
Enclosure size: 8x4x4+
Diet: Omnivore


The Argentine black and white tegu is the most common species in the trade and universally appreciated for its friendliness and docile nature. They eat just about anything and tend to get quite big in size, so they need a lot of room. Other than that, they are relatively low maintainance and rather friendly, so much that people often compared them to dogs.

Chacoan White Headed Tegu

3# Chacoan tegu

Species: salvator merianae
Difficulty: Easy
Size: 4 to 5 feet
Enclosure size: 8x4x4+
Diet: Omnivore

The Chacoan white-headed tegu is another type of salvator merianae native to the Chaco region of Paraguay (and also known as “Paraguayan tegu”). They are very similar to the black and white tegu both in looks and behavior, but they tend to grow even larger in size, with adult males averaging 5 feet. Because they are the biggest of all tegu species, they need bigger encloures with plenty of space, but are otherwise quite tame and easy to care for.

Red tegu eating a banana

4# Red tegu

Species: salvator rufescens
Difficulty: Moderate
Size: 3 to 5 feet
Enclosure size: 8x4x4+
Diet: Omnivore

The Red tegu is a separate species which shares much of the same characteristics of the Argentine tegu. They can however get even larger in size and some people think they are more prone to experience shedding issues and skin problems, especially in winter. They are somewhat more sensitive to drops in temperature and humidity and because of this they may need some extra attention compared to other species.

Golden tegu

5# Colombian gold tegu

Species: tupinambis teguixin
Difficulty: Moderate
Size: 2 to 3 feet
Enclosure size: 6x3x3+
Diet: Carnivore

Colombian tegus belong to the tupinambis teguixin species, which is known to be more aggressive and challenging to tame tame compared to Argentine and Red tegu. Colombian tegus can actually be tamed with a bit of patience, they do take more time. This may also be due to the fact that most specimens available in the trade are caught from the wild and not hatched by breeders. Once tamed, they are actually quite similar to other tegus in terms of behavior, they are however much smaller in size and have a mainly carnivorous diet (only 10% of fruits and vegetables).


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: