Argentine Tegu Temperament | Are Argentine Tegus Friendly?

Are Argentine tegus friendly?

Despite being one of the larger species of lizards that people keep as pets, the Argentine Tegu’s temperament might not be as ferocious as one might assume. Typically speaking, argentine tegus are friendly pets when properly cared for. 

Argentine tegus typically have a docile temperament compared to other large pet lizards. Despite their size, they are relatively friendly, calm, and intelligent.

Argentine tegus even seem to have an interest in humans and some keepers compare their temperament to that of cats. 

So, it looks like these tegus aren’t as aggressive as you might think. They actually have a lot of personality which isn’t exactly common in reptiles. Some fans of the species say that the  Tegu’s attitudes and behaviors are almost more mammalian than reptilian.

Argentine Tegu: The Friendliest Large-Sized Lizard

There are a lot of different tegu species that are available to be kept as pets. Some species of tegu are friendlier than others. My top two would include the Argentine and the red tegu.  But the Argentine Black and White Tegu take the cake as one of the friendliest if not the most friendly large-sized lizard.

If you are looking for a reptile that is large enough to really show off and generally friendly, the Argentine Tegu might be just what you are looking for. Though they can grow fairly large, around three and a half feet for females and up to five feet for males. 

Argentine Black and White Tegus aren’t generally fighters and when they feel threatened they will posture and make themselves look threatening, but when push comes to shove, they will most likely run and hide rather than bite. Still, it shouldn’t be tested as they do have a very impressive set of teeth and a bite force nearly as strong as dogs. 

That bite force has most likely evolved because these lizards love eating snails, arthropods, and big chunks for fruit that require some serious chompers. Just understand that these large lizards need the proper care. If you do that your Argentine tegu will likely have a great temperament. 

Are Argentine Tegus Dangerous?

Like any pet, tegus need to be socialized with humans from a young age. Though tegus are generally friendly, this is only under the circumstances that they get the proper care. The same goes for other pets as well. A dog for example might not be too friendly if they where only kept in a small cage and never socialized.

In addition, Argentine black and white tegus are large lizards. Because of this, they are capable of inflicting serious damage if they want to.

So if you do choose to get a tegu make sure you are willing to spend the time necessary to raise a friendly tegu. Simply because of their size and strength tegus are capable of being dangerous. 

I do not say this to scare you but rather to make sure you truly understand the potential risks of keeping large lizards as pets. Too often have I seen a pet store sell potentially dangerous reptiles to first time owners including small children. 

The Argentine tegu is from my experience the friendliest of the giant pet lizards. However, I would not recommend any large lizard for an unexperienced reptile keeper. So don’t get your 5 year old a tegu as their first pet reptile.

Argentine Tegu Temperament and Personality

There are a few things that stand out about Black and White Tegus that really set them apart from lizards of similar size. 

  • They’ve Got A Lot Of Personality: If one of these Tegus is handled early and often, they likely grow up to become  docile lizards. Argentine black and white tegus can be tame enough to be allowed to wander the house and explore and often show interest in what their human is doing. They will usually come and try to find their keeper if they get bored or haven’t seen them in a while. Argentine tegus have a feline quality to them where they mostly keep to their own business. However, if they want affection they will seek it out, and demand it. They will crawl up on your lap, but it’s usually on their terms.
  • They Are Easy Going: They aren’t as jumpy as a lot of reptiles can be in the household. As long as they have a place to hide, they are usually fairly relaxed and easy-going. 
  • They Are Intelligent: They remember their humans, especially the ones they like and don’t like. They can respond to their own name, though they may choose not to respond if they don’t feel like it. Tegus are playful and enjoy exploring and getting into things, which can be a bit of a pain sometimes. They can even learn some simple tricks, but don’t assume that they will always stand and deliver if you want to show off their smarts to a friend. 

Are Argentine Tegus Friendly Enough For Beginners?

For a first-timer, the biggest hurdle really doesn’t have anything to do with the lizards itself, but rather it’s sheer size. Not only the size of the tegu but also the needs of living space and enclosure size.

The large size of these lizards can also run up the grocery bill. Make sure you have a proper understanding of tegus dietary requirements. Dietary needs are a big factor when choosing a pet reptile. 

To be honest, tegus are probably not the first lizard to get if you have never owned a reptile before. Not that tegus are not friendly or that a newbie would have no chance of caring for one. It is simply a matter of size. If you turn out to not be the greatest reptile owner, you will not want to deal with a large neglected lizard.

Tegus Are Not For First Time Keepers

It might be a better idea to try out a smaller sized lizard to get your feet wet. You can still get something cool and exciting that is also is friendly, but just a bit smaller. Something like a bearded dragon or blue tongued skink would be my first pick if you are looking for a first-time lizard with decent size.

 A full-grown Argentine Tegu requires a lot of room for its enclosure, about six feet wide by six feet long and about four feet deep at the least. That said, I think a tegu enclosure should actually be much larger. The most ideal option would likely be to build out a custom cage. 

They also can be master escape artists from even the most secure tanks. So, these lizards aren’t the greatest choice for someone living in a small apartment or bedroom. For this reason, some people prefer to start with a smaller lizard.

Don’t fret if you had your heart set on an Argentine Tegu but don’t have space. The Argentine Tegu isn’t the only friendly reptile in the game. Just make sure you do your research before making a choice for any pet reptile.

If you want a friendly tegu with a great temperament, you need to put in the work. This also goes for any other reptile or pet as well. 

In Summary

The temperament of the Argentine tegu is generally friendly. This is of course, only when properly cared for. Make sure you are up for giving a tegu the proper care and housing required before making a purchase. 

Yes, the Argentine tegu is generally friendly, but again they are large lizards. Large lizards are capable of doing more damage than smaller sized lizards. This is not to discourage you, in fact, I think tegus are perhaps the best per lizard you can buy. Just make sure you are up for the challenges.

The Argentine Tegu is an amazing pet reptile that can really show a lot of affection to humans and be a lot of fun with its quirky personality and intelligent antics. They are truly a gentle giant when handled frequently and get the care that they deserve as young lizards. 

As long as you have space and are ready for the commitment, why not bring one of these reptiles into your family? For more on tegu care, check out my ultimate Argentine tegu care guide

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