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Do tegus climb?

Tegu climbing behavior changes drastically with age. All tegus are generally born arboreal (i.e. they climb and live on trees to escape predators) but move to the ground as they grow larger in size.

Adult tegus are terrestrial, not arboreal, and burrowing animals that prefer to spend time on land and do not generally like climbing. That said, they are able to, if they want.

Juvenile tegus love to climb. Adults, not so much.
Juvenile Argentine black and white tegu. Photo courtesy of CHUCAO.

Climbing behavior in tegu species

There are three main species of tegus commonly kept as pets: Salvator merianae, Salvator rufescens, and Tupinambis teguixin.

These species all exhibit the same climbing behavior patterns. Juvenile tegus are very agile climbers and spend a lot of time in trees, they use their sharp claws and powerful tails to grip branches and move quickly through the trees.

As they get older, tegus become less arboreal and spend more time on the ground. They still have the ability to climb, but they do not do it as often.

Other less common species of tegus, such as the Dracaena guianensis, or Caiman Lizard, are actually arboreal and do climb extensively even as adults.

These lizards have long, slender bodies and powerful tails that help them to grip branches. They are also very good at jumping from branch to branch.

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