Argentine Black And White Tegu Vs Red Tegu: Which is Better? 

Are you looking for a unique and exotic large pet lizard? Look no further than the Argentine black and white Tegu or the Red Tegu. There are a number of lizards that are included in the Tegu family tree. “Tegu” is a common name for a number of lizards belonging to the Teiidae and Gymnophtalmidae families. 

Between the Argentine Black and White Tegu and the Red Tegu, the Argentine Black and White makes the best pet. Their smaller size, along with their calm and tame nature and exotic good looks, make them the perfect tegu to adopt as a pet. 

The Argentine black and white tegus and the red tegus are not the only tegus people consider when looking for an exotic pet. In addition to comparing these two species, we will also take a look at a few other tegu breeds. 

Argentine Black and White Tegus As Pets

Which is better between the Argentine tegu and the red tegu?

The Argentine Black and White Tegu make great pets. In the wild, they can live from approximately 15 to 20 years. A healthy tegu in captivity can live longer than this. The Argentine tegu, like the red tegu, is a large-sized lizard that requires special care. For more on tegu care, check out my Argentine black and white tegu care guide

Size and Appearance Of The Argentine Black And White Tegu

Argentine tegu size care varies greatly. On average, adult male Black and Whites grow from 3-4 feet long, although they have been known to get as big as 4.5 feet long or even longer. Females can grow up to 3 feet or longer but are usually smaller. Tegus grow rapidly, sometimes at the rate of 1 to 2 inches per week. They typically reach maturity in two to three years. 

As babies, they are born with a bright green colored head pattern that fades as they get older. By maturity, they are dark grey to black with white mottled bands across the back and tail. Argentines differ from other tegus in that they have a lateral line that runs from their eye, down the side of the body.

Argentine Black And White Tegu Temperament

With appropriate care, patience, and regular handling, adults are generally docile and acclimate with their guardians. Black and White Tegus that are well-maintained and handled regularly with appropriate care do not tend to be aggressive. 

However, if threatened, the Black and White will defend itself. Their teeth are made for tearing through flesh, and they can cause damage to bones as well. If you are attacked by a Tegu, you will most likely need stitches.  It is important to remember that even though most tegus are less aggressive than many other large lizards, they are still large lizards. Which means that they are capable of damage. This goes for both the Argentine and the red tegu. 

When tegus reach somewhere between the sizes of 18 to 30 inches in length, they go through a stage similar to that of human adolescents and seem to hate everyone, including their guardian. They are more aggressive and defensive during this period. The best thing to do during this developmental stage is to be patient and give them their space until their hormones have settled down, and they are receptive to handling and training.

Argentine Black And White Tegus Are Intelligent

Argentine Black and White Tegus are extremely intelligent and even somewhat trainable. Black and Whites can be trained to do the following: 

  • Solve problems to get food
  • Respond to their name
  • Respond to a few vocal commands
  • Be target trained
  • Be house trained 

Red Tegus As Pets

Argentine black and white tegu vs red tegu

Red tegus are similar to the black and white Tegus in many ways. They are native to 

  • Western Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Paraguay. 

Size And Appearance Of Red Tegus Vs Argentine Tegus

Red tegus grow to be a little bit bigger than the black and white, with adult males reaching around 4.5 feet and adult females reaching just under 3 feet. The males also develop large jowls. 

Red tegus don’t start to show off most of their red color until they reach maturity. The males are usually brighter than the females but not always. There is some debate on what species of tegu is the most attractive. Either way, both the Red and Argentine tegus are awesome looking lizards.

Red Tegu Vs Argentine Black and White Tegu Temperament

Just like its cousin, the black and white tegu, the red tegu is known to be docile and amenable towards its guardian. In some cases, they have even been known to bond with their guardians, similar to how a dog or cat bonds with its guardian.

With the right amount of proper:

  • Handling
  • Training
  • Care

the red tegu will remain 

  • Calm 
  • Content
  • Affectionate 

throughout its entire life. They generally only become aggressive when they feel threatened. 

The Intelligence Of The Red Tegu Vs Argentine Black and White Tegu

The red tegu is every bit as intelligent as the black and white tegu and can be trained in the same ways to perform the same commands. 

Differences Between The Argentine Black and White Tegu and The Red Tegu

The Argentine black and white and the red tegus have more in common than they have differences. The main differences boil down to: 

  • Coloring
  • Size

Why Does Coloring Matter?

Some tegu enthusiasts seem to be more attracted to the black and white tegu than the red tegu. Perhaps it’s the stark contrast between the two shades that accentuates the tegus’ unique patterns that catch the eye. In any case, they seem to be the more popular pet. However, red tegus also have great coloration. I guess it is more of a matter of preference than anything else. 

Why Does Size Matter?

Just like with any type of pet, the appropriate size depends on how much space the pet needs versus the space available in your home. More tegu enthusiasts seem to choose the smaller Argentine black and white, probably because it requires less space to be healthy and happy. 

That said, they are both large lizards and both require a large amount of space. The size between the two is not that drastic at the end of the day.

Do The Other Tegu Species Make Good Pets?

There are other tegu species out there including: 

  • Blue
  • Gold
  • Colombian Black and White

But do they make as good a pet as their black and white or their red cousin?

Blue Tegus As Pets

The blue tegu is thought to be a subset of the Argentine black and white tegu. As its name implies, it has a striking blue or silver hue to it.

Like its cousin, the blue tegu has a great temperament. It is considered to be: 

  • Docile 
  • Amenable towards its handler
  • Easy to train

Gold Tegus As Pets

Gold tegus are a bit smaller than Argentine and red tegus, topping off at 1.5 to 3.5 feet long. 

Also known as the “Common” tegu, this species tends to be more aggressive than the other tegus. It is more reactive to quick movements that resemble that of a small animal. They will bite, scratch, or lash out with their tail quickly, causing minor to severe injuries. 

Due to their innate aggression, gold tegus are not as easily trainable as other breeds.

The Colombian Black And White Tegu As A Pet

Smaller than their Argentine cousins, the Colombian black and white tegu does not surpass 3 to 3.5 feet in length. They can weigh up to about 8 pounds. Despite their smaller size, the Colombian black and white are much more aggressive than the Argentine. They are not recommended as pets, especially not for first-time lizard owners. 

After when you can get an Argentine black and white tegu there is really no reason for many people to get a Colombian black and white tegu.

The Argentine Black And White Tegu Is Best Pet Tegu Lizard

Compared to the gold tegu and Colombian black and whites, this is a no brainer. The Argentine black and white has a much better temperament and is quite trainable. 

The real contest is between the Argentine black and white and the red tegus. Both are smart and trainable, but as mentioned earlier, there are two main differences that give the black and white extra points towards being the best pet.

  • Coloring
  • Size

As aforementioned, the black and white contrast is eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing. But for some people, the red tegu is more attractive. The slightly smaller size of the Argentine black and white makes it easier to house and care for, especially for pet owners who may not have as much space available. 

These two physical traits, along with the breed’s pleasant temperament and intelligence, makes the Argentine black and white tegu the most interesting and rewarding of all of the tegus to raise and care for as a pet. But honestly, the differences are not too drastic, so I would suggest the one that you simply like the most. 

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