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Back to Education IndexThe Argentine black and white tegu, Tupinambis merianae, is the largest species of tegu. It is also known as the Argentine giant tegu. It belongs to the teiid family.
They are an omnivorous terrestrial species that inhabit the tropical rain forests, savannahs and semi deserts of east and central South America. Tegus fill ecological niches similar to those of monitor lizards, and are an example of convergent evolution.
Just as many other reptiles, Argentine Tegus will go into brumation (a form of hibernation) in autumn when the temperature drops. A level of intelligence unusually high for reptiles has been observed, along with a high level of physical activity during the wakeful period of the year. It is believed that individuals of this species sometimes actively seek human attention, as would for example a cat or dog.
Tegus are omnivorous lizards. In the wild, juvenile Argentine tegus have been observed eating a diet consisting primarily of insects, spiders, and wild fruits and seeds. As tegus outgrow their juvenile state they begin to move towards a higher protein diet frequently scavenging eggs from other reptiles, and even eating small birds. However, even adult Argentine tegus continue eating insects and wild fruits as they grow older as these foods hold essential nutrients to the tegu.
As hatchlings they have an emerald green complexion from tip of their snout to midway down their neck with black markings; the emerald green eventually fades to black within a couple of months after shedding. Adult males are much larger than the females and can reach 3 feet (92 cm) in length at maturity and continue to grow to lengths of 4-4.5 feet (120 to 140 cm). The females are much smaller reaching up to 3 feet in total length, from nose to tail. They have beaded skin and linear stripes running down their bodies. Adults can reach a weight from 2.5 to 7 kg.
This page is about the Argentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merianae)
Click HERE for a Black and White Tegu care sheet.