Argentine Tegus are considered by many reptile enthusiasts to be one of the best lizards to keep as pests. Despite their large size, they are often docile and easy-going. The only downside for many people is the sheer size of the Argentinian tegu.
Argentine Tegus reach up to five feet in length and weigh up to twenty pounds. Female Argentine tegus tend to be a bit smaller than males, usually reaching around three and a half feet in length.
Even though Argentine tegus can get so large, it is not necessarily what makes them such a popular pet. It is all in their temperament and personality. If you are going to get a large lizard as a pet the Argentine tegu is probably the best choice.
However, I do not recommend large lizards for most people, especially beginners. In this article, let’s take a closer look at what makes these big Tegus such popular gentle giants.
Argentine Tegu Size: Big Lizard, Big Personality
Because Argentine tegus are so large they can appear intimidating and dangerous at first glance. In reality, they are actually very docile animals and take very well handling. Most Argentine Tegu owners develop a close bond with these large lizards.
That said, it is still very important to remember that tegus are still big and powerful lizards that are capable of inflicting damage. Though tegus are generally calm and docile, they will need to be properly handled from a young age to get used to interactions with humans.
If you were to get a tegu and neglect to interact with it you could have a big problem. Honestly however this is true for all animals that are not socialized. You could expect the same thing from any pet.
Tegus Are Big and Powerful Reptiles
The point is that yes tegus are generally friendly and amazing reptiles. However, they are large powerful reptiles and that should not be forgotten.
If you are not sure how well you will do with a pet lizard I would suggest you try a smaller lizard first. Perhaps a bearded dragon or a blue-tongued skink. These lizards are also docile lizards but they do not get quite so large.
At birth, an Argentine Black and White Tegu will be between 7 and 10 inches long. But, they can grow up to an inch a month.
It usually takes between 2.5 and 3 years for these lizards to reach their full, adult size. Males tend to be between 4 and 5 feet long when full-grown, while females average around 3.5 feet long.
Why Tegus Are My Favorite Giant Lizard
It is more than just their chill attitude that these Tegus are so popular. Let’s look more at these lizards’ advantages.
Their Relaxed Temperament
These Tegus are about as easy-going of any large lizard can be. With good socialization early in life the Argentine Black and White Tegu can grow to be very comfortable with being handled.
So much so that a lot of owners say that owning one of these Tegus is quite similar to owning a cat or a dog. They seem to enjoy a good scratch and cuddle more than most of their fellow scally animals.
They Are Low Maintenance Compared To Other Lizards Of Equal Size
Even though tegus are large lizards, they don’t require any advanced types of maintenance that you might expect from a large, exotic animal. Just the basic reptile needs heat, humidity, shelter, an enclosure, food, and water.
The main thing that they need more of than most aquarium-dwelling creatures is that they need a fairly large one. If you’re thinking of getting one of these fantastic reptiles, plan on having a tank that is six to nine feet long in your home.
This is likely something that you will have to build yourself or hire someone else to build. This is only of the bigger disadvantages of caring for large-sized lizards such as tegus.
But once you have built a cage they are low maintenance compared to other large lizards.
Argentine Tegus Are Very Intelligent
For a lizard, they are very intelligent. They have a naturally inquisitive nature that isn’t very common in a lot of reptiles. Their large, expressive eyes hold a lot of personality in them and they really light up when they see the people that they love come over to say hello.
For more on this check out my article: Do Tegus Make Good Pets?
Downside Of The Argentine Tegus Size
They may be super popular as pets but there are definitely some things to keep in mind when thinking of purchasing one of these big ol’ lizards. Here are some of the biggest reasons why one of these Tegus might NOT be for you.
You probably understand that by now, but we feel as though we should make the point again. They get large. This can be a problem for a few reasons.
Generally, the larger the animal, the bigger the stink. They poop a lot and they poop large and it can stink up their area quickly. They also take up a lot of room.
Large Tegus Require A Lot Of Space
If you live in a small apartment, you might need to reconsider using 18 square feet, or more, of living space to house one of these galoots.
It is important to remember that tegus are large lizards. Sure they are generally friendly pets when they are properly cared for but they do need to be properly cared for. Otherwise, you might end up with a large lizard that is not too friendly.
Of course, the same thing could happen with any pet or lizard. That said, a less friendly smaller sized lizard such as a bearded dragon or gecko is a bit less threatening than a 5-foot tegu. This brings us to our next point.
Large-Sized Tegus Can Be Dangerous
Take this one with a grain of salt. They are still very docile animals and are usually very well-behaved. But, since they are so large, they do have very powerful jaws, with teeth, as well as strong legs, long claws, and a tail like a whip.
They have the power to cause some serious pain if they choose to. Though this is typically not a problem, they are reptiles and they aren’t always as predictable as other pets. They can be especially grouchy when food is involved.
Large Tegus Can Be Destructive
Speaking of jumping on top of your tv stand, Argentine Tegus can get a little “feline” with their antics. They like to explore, which means they like to get into stuff, which means that sometimes they are going to break things.
Those big, heavy tails are great at knocking things over. It should also be said that if these lizards are neglected or treated poorly they can be destructive to their environment and have bad attitudes toward people.
All of these downsides about the Argentine Tegu are merely there to educate. They are wonderful, intelligent, cute animals that do make great pets to responsible people.
But, they are large reptiles with specific needs, most of all space, that require some knowledge and a lot of care, time, and responsibility. They are one of the most unique reptiles available to own as pets.
Consider The Size Of An Argentine Tegu Before Purchasing
Argentine tegus are large lizards that can reach up to 5 feet in length on occasion. Male Argentine tegus are typically much larger than females.
Because Argentine tegus are so large they will require large enclosures that will likely need to be custom-made. So make sure you can logically house a full-sized tegu.
Typically, Argentine tegus make great pets that are friendly and easier to handle than other large lizards of equal size. That said, it is important to always remember that they are still large and powerful reptiles that are capable of doing damage.
Before purchasing a tegu make sure that you are ready for the challenges you will face when caring for a tegu. Because of their large size, I would not recommend them for a first-time reptile owner.
That said, when it comes to large lizards the Argentine black and white tegu is my number one pick. If interested I would recommend checking out my complete Argentine Tegu Guide Here!