Argentine Black-and-White Tegu

Argentine Black-and-White Tegu Tupinambus merianae

Type of Animal:

Meadows, temperate/tropical open forest, forest edge savanna, rainforest, savanna, grassland, semi-desert, pampas

S Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, N Argentina, N Uruguay. Invasive in Florida, Georgia, & South Carolina. 

Hatchlings emerald green from snout tip to midway down neck w/ black markings, green fades to white as they get older, males larger than females w/ noticeable jowls, many individuals have yellow on white

Insects, insect larvae, worms, rodents, eggs, fruit, birds, grains, vegetables, fish, berries, spiders, snails, seeds, crocodilian hatchlings, carrion, young tortoises, snakes

Status in Wild:

Bred for pet/reptile trade & in zoos.


Additional Info:


Male-15 lbs
Female-7-8 lbs

2-3 months 

Life Span:
12-20 years

Body Length:
Male-4-4.5 ft
Female-3 ft
Young-8 in

Tail Length:
Male-2.5 ft
Female-1.5 ft

Main predators are jaguars, pumas, raptors, crocodilians & snakes.

Largest species of tegu, also called giant tegu.

They can be very active & also very sluggish.

They hibernate in colder weather & breed shortly after hibernation.

Hunted for meat/skin.

While primarily terrestrial, they’re great swimmers.

Females lay 12-70 eggs.

Fights between males sometimes result in death.

Mating behavior is often very rough.

They have very sharp claws.

Sexually mature at 2.5-3 years old.

They’re active during the day (diurnal).

They use their forked tongue for smell.

Fun Fact(s):
The word tegu comes from Latin American word for lizard.

Tegu fat sometimes used in medicine.

Can make great pets if handled often & can even be trained to walk on a harness. Known to be very docile, though some males become aggressive during breeding season. Wild tegus not nearly as friendly.

Known to be one of the smartest lizards, being able to recognize owners.

Due to feeding response, people might get bitten accidentally.

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