Skillelinie

Tupinambis merianae

(Argentine Black and White Tegu)

Argentine Black and White Tegu, juvenile male
Argentine Black and White Tegu, juvenile female  
 
The Argentine Black & White Tegu lives in the eastern part of Argentina. To the west it is replaced by the Red Tegu (Tupimambis rufescens). The B&W tegu inhabit the open land often covered by tall clumps of pampas grass. In the southernmost part of their range the winter is very cold and long often with freezing temperatures. 
The Argentine B&W Tegu is the largest member of the tegus , and can reach more than 130 cm in length. Juveniles eat insects, small rodents, snails and fish, but the adults eat a great variety of food including fruit and leftovers from your own kitchen like bread, pizza and pies. They grow so fast that I have never seen anything like that. If not hibernated I believe, that they can reach maturity in one year. Both Argentine tegus hibernates for more than 4 months in nature.  The Argentine B&W tegu has a unique breeding behaviour. The females build a real nest. They start digging a large burrow and gather dead plant material from around the burrow and brings it inside using her legs. Two chambers are made. The lower chamber holds the eggs completely surrounded with dead plant material and the female occupies the higher chamber and sits guard. Up to 52 eggs are placed in the nest weighing up to 1 kilo, and they hatch after about 70 days of incubation.
 
Argentine Black and White Tegu, adult female
 
We kept a pair of these lovely animals in our collection. They were kept inside, but our plan is to keep them outside all year round, only protected with some Acryl-plastic covering the cage to higher the temperature in the cold months. The male didn`t prey on many food items. He liked all rodents, but hes favorite food were slugs and snails. Fruit and vegetables are overlooked with the exeption of a little banana at times. The female ate everything. When hungry both animals were really attentive, and attacks everything entering the cages, hoping it to be eatable.  
 
Argentine Black and White Tegu, adult pair
 
These lizards are very intelligent. They recogniced me as the feeder and normally accepted me, but after a week of vacation my wife came down to the terrarium, and both tegus turned very agressive against her. Strangers are also considered hostile, and our dog Tanja were always examined....... Atable or enimy??