Fun Black And White Tegu Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 08, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Diya Patel
Black and white tegu facts are interesting to read.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

Are you interested to know about one of the coolest reptiles? If yes, let us look at the Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae). This species is native to central and southern South America, in countries like Brazil and Argentina. Apart from sighting the lizard in the wild, you can also find it in human households where it is kept as pets. They have gained such popularity due to the dotted black-and-white pattern of the lizard that gives the species an amazing look. In the US, the black and white tegu lizard has become prominent in Florida and Georgia. The black and white tegu likes to stay in warm places. This is a smart species of lizard, and it can certainly learn to get used to a human household. As a calm species, this lizard seldom behaves aggressively. The length of the females tends to be smaller than that of males.

Want to learn more about these tegus? Keep on reading to learn fascinating black and white tegu facts. Also, check out the articles on coral snakes and corn snakes.

Black And White Tegu Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a black and white tegu?

The Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae) is a type of lizard.

What class of animal does a black and white tegu belong to?

The black and white tegu belongs to the class Reptilia and the genus Salvator.

How many black and white tegus are there in the world?

The black and white tegus have a stable population in the wild as well as in captivity. Hence, it is quite hard to find its total population. However, the population of these lizards is increasing in the U.S., especially in Florida.

Where does a black and white tegu live?

The black and white tegu lizard is native to eastern and central South America. The reptile has also reached the households of many people throughout the world. A significant population lives in the U.S., especially in the states of Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia, where it is an invasive reptile species.

What is a black and white tegu's habitat?

The common habitats for the Argentine black and white are tropical rainforests, savannas, and semi-deserts. When it comes to keeping these reptiles as pets, they need to be housed in a  large tank or terrarium. The minimum size of the enclosure needs to be 6 ft by 3 ft by 2 ft to give the lizard enough space. Temperature is quite important for the tegus, and they like warm places to bask in that have a temperature of up to 100°F.

Who do black and white tegu live with?

The Argentine black and white tegu is a solitary animal. Hence, you will see it alone most of the time. It is also kept as a solitary animal in an enclosure. It is better to keep the males away from each other. The Argentine black and white tegus will come together only during the mating season.

How long does a black and white tegu live?

The average lifespan for the black and white tegu is 15-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

The Argentine black and white tegus breed twice a year. The breeding season of the species largely depends on its geographical location. Most of the Argentine black and white tegus will breed after coming out of hibernation. In Paraguay, the breeding takes place from September to November. While for the population of Argentina, the breeding might be a little later. The females lay about 12-30 eggs in a single clutch. The breeding may also get delayed if the temperature is too hot or too cold. The incubation time of the eggs is around 60 days. The females make the nest from dried vegetation. The young hatchlings of tegus may have a green coloration on their head, which disappears with time.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, the current status of the Argentine black and white tegus is of Least Concern.

Black And White Tegu Fun Facts

What does a black and white tegu look like?

The name of the Argentine black and white tegus gives us a hint of the lizard's beautiful black and white pattern. These animals are quite big, though the females are smaller than the males. The body of the tegu is covered in small scales, and the scales get bigger as it approaches its face. The mottled black and white color pattern of the tegus is present in a banded pattern that continues up to the tail. The Argentine black and white tegus are especially known for their chubby cheeks, a characteristic that is only found in males. Their legs are powerful and muscly, which helps the Tegu lizard to run pretty fast. However, in the past, these animals were also used as a source of leather, and one of the saddest things is that most of the invasive populations of these tegus aren't protected by state wildlife laws. A rare blue morph of the Argentine black and white tegu lizard can also be found.

How cute are they?

The Argentine black and white tegu lizard may not be cute in the regular sense, but then it is an elegant and beautiful lizard with a unique color pattern.

How do they communicate?

Various ways of communication are used by the tegus. For instance, this lizard uses a popping sound to attract its mate. The lizard may even make a hissing sound when it is irritated. When the Argentine black and white tegus are kept as pets, it is said that they are even able to feel the pet owners.

How big is a black and white tegu?

The average size of the female black and white tegu is 3 ft (91.4 cm), while the average size for the male is 4–4.5 ft (122–137 cm). In most cases, there is at least a one-foot difference seen between the two sexes. The Argentine tegu is much larger than the gold tegu which reaches a maximum length of 2-3 ft (60-100 cm).

How fast can a black and white tegu run?

Argentine black and white tegus belong to a family of reptiles that are especially known for having a fast speed. The exact running speed for the tegus is not known but it can be pretty fast when it needs to.

How much does a black and white tegu weigh?

The average weight for the female tegu is around 5.5–15.4 lb (2.5–7.0 kg), while the average weight of the male tegu is up to 20 lb (9 kg).  

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for the female and male Argentine black and white tegus.

What would you call a baby black and white tegu?

The baby black and white tegu lizards are known as hatchlings.

What do they eat?

The black and white tegu species are omnivorous, so they have a wide food range. Most of the adults feed on meat sources like birds, amphibians, eggs of other animals, insects, and small mammals. However, they also feed on fruits and vegetables to have a healthy diet. Mice and rats also take up a good part of a tegus diet in the wild. The adult tegus also feed on gophers, tortoises, and sea turtles, especially in areas like Florida and Georgia, which impacts the wild animals of the area quite badly. This is mainly due to the introduction of the tegus into unknown wildlife. When kept as pets, tegus should be given a balanced diet. About 60% of it should come from meat sources while the rest of the food may include vegetables and fruits. Tegus also love dog food, feeder insects, as well as chicken eggs, and insect eggs. Make sure to give your pet tegus a water dish. Also, check on its vitamin needs, as tegus can often have a deficiency.

Are they dangerous?

Not really! The Argentine black and white tegu is a common pet for many, and the lizards aren't dangerous for human beings. However, the tegu may chase people if it is irritated. Humans can even handle these animals quite easily when they are raised in captivity. The Argentine tegus have a threat display when they are irritated.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, the black and white tegus are a good species to keep as pets. Reptiles are also known for being responsive to the love of their owners. However, one needs to be very sure about keeping it as a pet for a long time. The tegu population of Georgia and Florida has raised significantly because of abandoned pet tegus, and it has become an invasive species. This impacts the wildlife quite badly as the tegus have ended up eating wild animals like gophers and tortoises in Florida, which causes an imbalance in the ecosystem. It also impacts the natural diet of the tegus as it ends up eating eggs and other things that it isn't used to.

Did you know...

The former scientific name of the species was Tupinambis merianae.

These tegus can lose their tail and grow again while going through a body change process.

The black and white tegus bask in the sun to regulate their body temperature.

Cypress mulch is a good substrate for tegu terrariums.

Are Tegus smarter than monitors?

It is a debatable statement to say that Tegus are smarter than monitor lizards. However, wild tegus are certainly quite smart and intelligent. Tegus are also larger than monitor lizards. Tegus are one of the only reptiles that experience rapid eye movement sleep, which is usually only seen in mammals. Moreover, because of the fascinating cognitive abilities of the tegu species, it is really easy to train these lizards, and you can easily teach them tricks.

What is the smartest reptile?

The monitor lizard is considered to be the most intelligent and smartest reptile.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including slender-snouted crocodile facts and black mamba facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Black and white tegu coloring pages.

Black And White Tegu Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Insects, snails, eggs, chicken, small rodents, fish, turkey

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

Female - 5.5–15.4 lb (2.5–7.0 kg), Male - Up to 20 lb (9 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical rain forests, savannas, semi-deserts

Where Do They Live?

eastern and central south america

How Long Were They?

Female - 3 ft (91.4 cm)Male - 4–4.5 ft (122–137 cm)‍

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Salvator merianae

What Do They Look Like?

Black and white

Skin Type

Dry scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

cougars, snakes, otters, jaguars, birds of prey

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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