Black and White Tegu Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Black and White Tegu, Giant Tegu

Scientific Name:

Salvator merianae

Wild Status:

Least Concern

Habitat:

Tropical rain forests, savanna and semi-deserts

Country:

East and Central South America

Shelter:

Old growth forests or newly planted ones.

Life Span:

15 to 20 years

Size:

Females around 3 feet and males 4 1/2 feet

Cool Facts:

  • The black and white tegu can use their tail as a whip when threatened.
  • The black and white tegu is the largest species of tegus.
  • Their main diet consists insects, spiders, small mammals, birds, amphibians, fruits and seeds.
  • The black and white tegu is important to ecology because they disperse seeds through droppings.
  • These lizards are diurnal.
  • The black and white tegu are considered a delicacy for humans and their meat is used as dog food too.
  • The black and white tegu hibernate during the winter.
  • Black and white tegus make great pets and are known to bond with their owners.
  • The black and white tegu is thought to possess seasonal reproductive endothermy.

Details:

The black and white tegu is the largest species of tegu.  They can be found in East and Central South America living in tropical rain forests, savannas, and semi-deserts. The black and white tegu is highly intelligent and can be housebroken. They are considered to be good pets because they bond to their owners. Hatchling black and white tegus are emerald green from tip of the snout to their neck with black markings. As they shed and get older the green becomes black. The black and white tegu is able to lose it's tail as a distraction from predators. They can also use their tail as a whip if threatened. The black and white tegu is partially warm-blooded displaying temperature control only during their reproductive season which is from September to December. The females can lay between 10 and 73 eggs. The black and white tegu's diet consists of insects, spiders, snails, fruits, seeds, small mammals, birds and even other reptiles eggs.  

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Squamata Family: Teiidae Genus: Salvator Species: S. merianae

Conservation & Helping:

The black and white tegu are listed on the CITES Appendix 2 list so trade is in the process of being controlled.

For Teachers and Educators

Black-and-White-Tegu-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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