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Argentine black and white tegu

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Argentine black and white tegu
Scientific Classification
Scientific Name

Salvator merianae

The Argentine Black and White Tegu is a species of lizard that is about one meter long. Its name is inhabits the tropical rain forests, savannas, and semi-deserts of east and central South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay). This lizard hides under any large object that can protect them. Females key eggs in the summer time. The Argentine black and white tegu is an animal that feeds on insects and on fallen fruits. It lives in South America but was brought into the United States as pets. Lives in wet forests.

These lizards don't compete for territory. The female is generally smaller then the male. It can have up to a dozen eggs at a time.These are a unisexual species. This lizard does not need a sperm to fertilize her eggs. They also use asexual reproduction for eggs to be created.The population grows rapidly because all the adults are basically female.

[2] [3] [4]

Body Design

The Black and White Tegu can get up to four feet long [5]. Black and White Tegu's have forked tongues, and fully developed eyes and eyelids, their tails contain fracture plates which makes their tail very easy to be broken off. They have scales and have sharp teeth [6].

Life Cycle


The Argentine Black and White Tegu is a species of lizard that is invasive to the state of Florida. The Tegus lifespan generally only lasts 15-20 years. It experiences an annual cycle which includes reproduction seasons, a postreproductive season, a period of time when entering into burrows is prolonged, and finally a dormant period. When fully grown tegus generally range from being 4 to 5 feet long. They grow rapidly, and are fully grown shortly after birth.[7]

  • Reproductive season- Just after dormant period
  • Postreproductive season- Wet warm summer months
  • Prolonged entry period- Inclement weather
  • Dormant period- Dry winter [8]

Reproduction takes place almost immediately after emerging from hibernation. Three weeks after emerging the males begin to pursue the females in hopes of finding a mate, and only about ten days after this the females begin to build nests. The male marks his reproductive grounds and begins attempting to win over a female so that he can mate. Once the female finishes building a nest she lays her eggs about a week after finishing. They have been known to regurgitate water onto the nest if it becomes dry. Tegus Usually lay about 30 or more eggs. The female is extremely protective of the eggs and will get aggressive when she feels threatened. Female tegus that feel threatened have been know to seriously wound or even kill other tegus.[9]


The Argentine black and white tegu's diet consists of plants, fruit, turtle eggs, and arthropods along with some vertebrates . The temperature affects the digestion of the food they take in. The temperature also affects how much they grow in a year and their daily activities. As they forage for food, they will cool down and they must stop and rewarm before they can continue. Without warm environment these animals would surely die .The lady tegus eat more plants than the males. The males have to consume more meat to make them larger so they can travel farther to find food and mate.

This type of lizard is the most active in the November and the December months (their summer months) every other month of the year is their winter . The times of day they are most active are from 10am to 12:30 pm. The females become active in November because that is when they come out of hibernation. These reptiles separate in the summer but they also stay closer to home as their hibernation time nears. When the cold weather hits it is more difficult to reproduce so instead they will reproduce in the warm months of the year.[10]



Invasive Species

Location and Method of Introduction The Argentine black and white tegu is located in rain forests, savannas, and deserts of east and central South America, but they are invasive in southeastern Florida. They are believed to have inhabited Florida as escaped or released pets.[13] Even though they put an entire species at risk for extinction The tegus are still being sold in pet stores all over Florida today. [14]

Environmental Impact The Argentine Black and white tegus has been caught stealing eggs from the nests of both alligators and turtles. They also threaten the python population.[15] The tegus are also eating Gopher Tortoises which are on the states threatened species list. [16]

Control Methods even though they cause major environmental threats nothing major has been done to remove the tegu, but minor capturing. The state is currently moving out of the containing phase and into the removing phase. The state feels that if they act quickly that they will be able to minimize the damage that the tegu could potentially produce. [17]

The tegu is not native to the United states but sometimes it can be found in places like Florida. They get to Florida by people bringing them in as pets. An invasive species can cause an imbalance in the environment with changes to food resources. Knowing their patterns of hibernation can help us control the invasive species by removing the females before they lay their eggs.


A Argentine black and white tegu that a man brought into a reptile shop....


  1. Tupinambis merianae Publisher site name. Web. Last Modified February 28, 2008. Author Unknown.
  2. Winct, Gisele Blanco, Cordine Cechin, Squamata, Teiida Population Ecology of Tupinambis Merionae. Web. 2011( Year) i.e.( Published in 2011)
  3. Evans,Arthur V. McDade, Melissa C. Schager,Neil Mertz, Leslie A.Harris, Madeline S. Whiptail Lizards Six-Racerunner.Volume 20 (November5,2004.)
  4. Mceachern,Michelle Fitzgerald,Lee Reed,Robert Klug,Page Yackel Adams,Amyof Argentine Black and white tegu Southeastern Naturalist"Tupinambis Merianae" pg 319-328 last updated in( 2015).
  5. McLeod, Lianne. Argentine Black and White Tegus Last Modified Web. May 22, 2016.
  6. . Whiptail Lizards, Tegus, and Relatives Last Accessed Web. Nov. 7, 2016.
  7. Argentine Black & White Tegus'. Web. Accessed October 30, 2016. Author unknown.
  8. Tattersall, Glenn. Seasonal reproductive endothermy in tegu lizards Web. Published January 2016.
  9. All about breeding Web. accessed October 30, 2016. Author unknown.
  10. Winct, Gisele. Population Ecology of Tupinambis Merianae (Squamata, Teiidae): Home-range, Activity and Space Use. Journal. Animal Biology 61. 2011. 493-510.
  11. McEachern, Michelle of Black and white "Tupinambis Merianae" Southeastern Naturalist pg 319-328. 2015 last update.
  12. Hutchins, Ed Michael.Gizmek's Animal Life Reptiles 2nd Edition"Whiptail Lizards, Tegus,and Relatives".Volume 7 pg 312. 2005 last year it was updated.
  13. Argentine Black and White Tegu Web. last accessed November 7, 2016 Author unknown.
  14. Jenny, Staletovich. Tegus on list of Sunshine State's most aggressive invasive species Web. Last Modified July 20, 2015.
  15. Invasive tegu lizards could affect Florida’s environment Web. Last Modified June 27, unknown.
  16. ROBIN, SUSSINGHAM . Tegu Invasion Worries Florida Wildlife Biologists disqus. Web. Last Modified March 12, 2014).
  17. Rebecca, G. The Argentine Black and White Tegu in South Florida: Population Growth, Spread, and Containment Web. Last Modified November 2015.