Tegu Lizard

(Tupinambis teguixin)

Reptiles Alive Name: “Tupinambis”

Hissstory: Tupinambis was an unwanted pet that came to live at Reptiles Alive in 2005.

RA Diet: We feed him mostly dead mice, but he also gets some fruit, eggs and occasionally, a giant cockroach.

Natural Diet: Tegus are opportunistic omnivores, which means they eat almost anything! Fruit, insects, invertebrates, eggs, small mammals, snakes, fish, and carrion could all be eaten by a hungry tegu.

Range: Northern South America, including the Amazon Rain Forest.

Habitat: The forest floor of tropical rain forests where they spend a lot of time hiding in burrows.
Size: Adults reach between 3 and 4 feet in length and usually weigh about 8 pounds.

Lifespan: Can live 10-20 years.

Reproduction: Females will lay 30 – 50 eggs which hatch in about three months. Hatchlings are a beautiful jade green. This color fades as they age.

Conservation: Some people hunt these lizards for their meat and skin. Other tegus are captured for the pet trade and many tegus you might find in a pet store are wild caught. Tegus do not make good pets. In south Florida, unwanted pet tegus have been released into the wild and are now becoming a problem species. Never release unwanted pets into the wild – you never know what damage can occur.

Cool Facts: Tegu scales are round in shape making the animal feel like it is covered in beads. Tegus fill the same ecological niche as monitor lizards do in the Old World, (monitors don’t live in the Americas).

“It was a pleasure having Reptiles Alive at the 12th Annual Taste of DC!” – Dawn Poker, Executive Director, American Experience Foundation