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5 Reasons Tegus are the Best Pet Lizard

The Argentine black and white tegu has been often recognized for being the best pet lizard out there, thanks to its mild temperament, high intelligence and dog-like qualities. As far as reptiles go, tegus really are just big scaly puppies!

It is hard to find any other reptile with the ability to bond with their owner the way a tegu does, even going as far as showing unmistakeable signs of affection and craving the presence of his human caregiver.

Below, five reasons why tegus simply are the best lizard pet.

Tegu Lizard - The best pet reptile

1. They are highly intelligent

The tegu is possibly the most intelligent reptile out there. There is actually an ongoing debate whether monitor lizards or tegus are the smartest reptiles, but I like to think that monitors are “smarter” while tegus are “more intelligent”.

Tegus show a form of intelligence that goes beyond playing tricks and solving problems: tegus can effectively create bonds with their owners, they respond well to training and handling, and on top of that yes – they love toys and can learn to play tricks.

2. They can be affectionate

Yes, tegus can be cuddly and affectionate. Some people go as far as saying that tegus are like dogs, because they do make for loyal companions under the right circumstances. It should be noted though that they are still lizards and as such they do not show affection the same way as a dog could.

Tegus are actually more similar to cats than dogs behaviorally, as they tend to keep to themselves but do crave attention from time to time. They will climb and crawl all over you, wiggle their tail and calmly flick their tongue, and I guess that’s the reptile equivalent of purring.

3. They are not aggressive

Most tegu species are relatively easy to tame and are generally not considered aggressive. Quite the opposite, tegus can be quite friendly! But if you are going to adopt one thinking it will love you (or even *like* you) from day one you’re up for disappointment. Tegus, like any other reptile, will be wary of your presence at first and only gradually start recognizing you as a caregiver over the course of several weeks or months.

Taming a tegu is a long process that requires a lot of patience. Thankfully some species such as the Argentine black and white tegu and the Red tegu have become so popular in the trade that they are easily domesticated. The Colombian or Golden tegu, on the other hand, is generally considered more “aggressive” and difficult to tame, but it really just requires a little bit of extra effort. In the end, a happy tegu that has been raised with love and care over many years will show nothing but loyalty towards their owner. Biting occurs very rarely and almost always by accident, and even then – it is usually not cause of concern, for tegus are not dangerous to humans.  

4. Easy to care for

Tegus may require a lot of space and plenty of attention, but as far as exotic pets go, they are relatively easy to keep. As a matter of fact, once you have their enclosure set up, it’s just a matter of providing food and water, much like you would care for a domestic cat.

Tegu surely enjoy being handled and interacting with their owners, but they will also be fine spending time by themselves and do not need constant attention. And because they are not picky eaters, keeping them well fed and happy is usually a no brainer – you can even feed them regular food from the grocery store and leftovers from your dinner. 

5. Not as expensive as you may think

Tegus are definitely not cheap – but much of the cost is related to setting up a large enough enclosure with proper heating, which will ultimately house your pet for several years or even decades. Budget-savvy people may build their own wood enclosure or use a grow tent instead to save money, and allowing your tegu to undergo brumation in winter will also considerably cut costs on both heating and food for several months a year.

And because tegus eat just about anything, inexpensive food choices are widely available. You can provide a healthy and diversified diet for a tegu without breaking bank by stocking up on chicken necks and gizzards, fish fillet, eggs, and even dog or cat food.


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