Tegu Vs. Green Iguana | Which Is The Best Pet Lizard?

Tegu Vs. Greem Iguana

When choosing the perfect reptile as a pet in your home, it is essential to consider the overall care that will be needed, the animal’s temperament, their possible health concerns, and how they will act around different ages of people, if you have children at home. Even though iguanas and tegus are both large lizards, they are quite other animals entirely. So which is the better pet lizard, the iguana or the tegu? 

Tegus are overall the better option for a house pet because they have better temperaments, they are easier to tame, and they require a slightly smaller area to live in. This is not to say that either animal will be easy to have as a house pet, but tegus win overall when comparing the two different species.

Iguanas require much more care, and their temperament can be more aggressive around all different types of people, which decreases the interest in wanting to spend tons of time and energy in the care and housing of one as a house pet. That when it comes to the best options for large-sized lizards, tegus are my number one pick. 

Tegu Vs. Green Iguana: Which Is The Best Pet Lizard?

Having the perfect reptile as a pet will often leave someone hoping for a docile animal that they can allow to roam their room without being afraid of getting hurt or scared. Tegus are very calm and easy pets to have compared to most of the other large-sized lizards.  Of course, you still need to consider the fact that they are very large lizards. 

Iguanas remain wild at heart no matter how tame you try to make them. Tegus can grow to be as tame as a cat, according to some tegu owners. Of course, there are some obvious differences between owning a mammal and a reptile. Much of this has to do with the housing requirements.

Tegus and iguanas both will require about the same amount of space for housing. That said, let’s look at some stats comparing these two large-sized lizards.

Tegu Green Iguana
Size 3-5 feet 5 to 6 feet
Temperament More Affectionate and calm  More aggressive
Food Small animals, insects, veggies, and fruit Greens and vegetables
Housing 8 feet minimum length 8 feet minimum length
Lifespan Up to 20 years Up to 30 years

The only plus side that iguanas have over tegus is that they only eat greens and not animals. It will be easier to feed an iguana than a tegu, but tegus are easier, kinder, and more enjoyable to have as a house pet on all other accounts. 

If you are going to get a large lizard then I would recommend the tegu over all of the other giant lizards. That said, I would only recommend them for someone with some experience caring for reptiles. For first-time owners, I would suggest something like a bearded dragon or blue-tongued skink instead.

Why I Do Recommend The Tegu Over The Iguana

Argentine black and white tegu temperament

Of all the large lizards I recommend the Argentine Black and White Tegu. I do want to be clear, however, that they are only my top recommendation for the large lizards. That is the lizards that reach lengths of 4 plus feet.

Compared to other large-sized lizards tegus are calm a docile. That is of course assuming that they have been properly cared for. Many people develop very strong bonds with their tegu lizards. They are the tamest of the large lizards. But if you are new to owning reptiles you might consider starting with something smaller.

Why I Do Not Recommend Green Iguanas

Iguanas have been a staple in the reptile community for a very long time. They are very beautiful lizards and if you are super lucky you might find one that is somewhat tame. That being said, Iguanas are not very good pets due to their aggressive nature. This is especially true for male iguanas. Though many people are drawn to the males because of their size and appearance.

Unfortunately, Iguanas are one of the more common lizards that parents buy for their kids. I think this is simply due to the fact that pet iguanas are some of the first pet lizards that come to people’s minds.

Every time I see someone on social media showing pics of their kids with their new baby pet iguana I can’t help but shake my head a little bit. Sure they aren’t too aggressive now but just wait. Perhaps I am too pessimistic but I have rarely if ever met someone with a tame iguana. Many of these people are experienced reptile owners I might add.

If you don’t believe me check out this video from Clint’s Reptiles on the Green Iguana!

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Purchasing A Tegu

Before bringing a new reptile home, it is important to sit down and think about how much time and desire you must take care of one of these unique animals. Even though they may be as tame as cats, they require a lot of extra care than a cat. 

  • Do you have time to hold your pet daily? If you do not hold Tegus often, there is a possibility that they can grow more aggressive over time. 
  • Are you willing to do what it takes to feed your tegu? Tegus eat small animals and insects, as well as vegetables and fruit. One of the biggest complaints that tegu owners have is that they have trouble finding the right foods every week. 
  • Do you have time to allow your tegu to get out and stretch regularly? Tegus need big cages and the opportunity to get out and walk around and stretch their legs often. This is a big responsibility because they will need to be supervised during this event.
  • Do you have other small pets in your home? Tegus like to eat small animals such as mice, gerbils, and hamsters. If you have any of these animals as pets in your home, you will either need to keep them far away from your tegu or maybe a tegu is not right for you.

It is important to do your research, talk to everyone in your home, and make this decision after much thought and sensitive planning so that you are not walking into a big decision that you will soon regret! It may not be easy to rehome your tegu once you have already brought him/her home. Tegus are a big responsibility, and they deserve to be well taken care of.

Bringing a reptile home as a house pet is a big responsibility, but if you are up for the job and you enjoy reptiles, this will likely be the beginning of a long and lovely relationship between you and your pet. Tegus are especially known for being affectionate, and they make great companions if they are well cared for!

How To Care For Tegus

Tegus are big reptiles that need lots of nutrients and regular exercise. Caring for a tegu will require more time and energy than caring for a cat, so be prepared and ready to invest time, money, and energy into the care of your new pet!

You will need to get mulch and lay it down on the bottom of your tegu’s cage so that they will experience the feeling of what it would be like in their natural habitat. Cypress mulch is recommended for tegus specifically. This will need to be cleaned and changed weekly so that bacteria and waste does not build up over time. 


It is important to allow your tegu to roam and exercise their legs regularly. However, never leave your tegu alone because they can either escape or eat small pets and other things in your home that you may not want to be devoured! Supervise your tegu so that they can safely enjoy their surroundings.

Health Concerns Of Tegus Vs. Green Iguanas

Both reptiles are at risk for different unique health issues that will be difficult and costly to treat. If not properly cared for, these animals will likely grow extremely sick, which is another reason you must be sure you can properly care for your new reptile pet before making the commitment and bringing one home. 



Metabolic Bone Disease Mouth Rot
Calcium Deficiency  Metabolic Bone Disease
Salmonella Respiratory Infections
Internal Parasites Parasites
External Parasites Hypervitaminosis D

With proper love and care, your reptile will likely live a long and healthy life with you and your family. It is important to take your tegu or iguana to their veterinarian regularly and to address any health concerns right away so that minor health issues can be treated early and you can avoid larger health problems down the road.

Iguanas and tegus have similar health concerns, but iguanas are more likely to get these life-threatening diseases because they are less likely to accept the care and help from human beings. When well cared for, tegus will likely live a long and healthy life, free from the diseases listed above. 

In Conclusion

Reptiles are a great deal of work, but tegus are overall the best large lizard to have in your home because of their personalities, health concerns, care need, and housing requirements. These animals will be less aggressive if held regularly, and they can even be affectionate with their owners once they have built up a loving bond. 

Tegus are large and do require space and proper care. Compared to iguanas they will be more enjoyable to have as a pet in your home. You will likely spend up to 20 years with your tegu, and it will become a treasured member of your family. 

It is important to research your tegu’s needs thoroughly before jumping into this new endeavor so that they will be well cared for and so that you will be sure that you have what it takes to be a tegu owner!

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