Red Tegus are a lizard that is native to parts of South America, where they live in arid semi-deserts, grasslands, and woodlands. They are one of the easier exotic pets to keep, as they have a docile nature and can be trained with “clickers” and other methods. They are also known for following their owners around the house “like a dog” and showing affection and curiosity.
But what exactly is a red tegu? How do you take care of one? And what are some interesting facts about these amazing animals? Let’s explore these questions and more. We will also provide you with a red tegu care sheet that covers everything you need to know about their diet, habitat, health, and behavior. So, if you’re ready to meet your new best friend, read on!
|Origin||Western Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay|
|Common Names||Red Tegu, Argentine Red Tegu, Red Giant|
|Scientific Name||Salvator rufescens|
|Adult Size||3 to 5 feet long, up to 15 pounds|
|Hatchling Size||8 to 10 inches long, less than 1 pound|
|Diet||Omnivorous, eats animal protein and plant matter|
|Enclosure Size||Minimum 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high|
|Life Expectancy||15 to 20 years|
What is a Red Tegu?
A red tegu is a large lizard that belongs to the genus Salvator, which includes several other species of tegus, such as the black and white tegu, the blue tegu, and the white tegu. The scientific name of the red tegu is Salvator rufescens, which means “reddish savior” in Latin.
The red tegu gets its name from its distinctive coloration, which varies from bright red to dull brown depending on the individual and the season. The red color develops as the lizard matures, and males tend to be brighter than females. They also develop some black stripes across its body and white stripes along its sides and tail.
The red tegu can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh up to 15 pounds, making it one of the largest lizards in the world. Males are significantly larger than females and have bigger heads and jowls. They also have two large scales at the base of their tail that are used for mating purposes.
The red tegu is an omnivorous and opportunistic feeder, meaning it will eat almost anything it can find. It feeds on fruits, vegetables, insects, rodents, birds, fish, and carrion in the wild. It needs a balanced diet of animal protein and plant matter in captivity to stay healthy.
The red tegu is a diurnal and terrestrial animal, meaning it is active during the day and lives on the ground. It likes to burrow in the soil and hide under rocks and logs. It also brumates in the winter, a form of hibernation that reptiles use to conserve energy when the temperature drops.
The red tegu is a social and intelligent animal that can form bonds with its owners and other animals. It can recognize its name, respond to commands, and learn tricks. It can also use tools such as chopsticks to manipulate food items. It enjoys being petted, scratched, and cuddled by its human companions.
How to Take Care of a Red Tegu?
Taking care of a red tegu is not very difficult if you have the right equipment and knowledge. Here are some of the main aspects of red tegu care that you need to consider:
Feeding a Tegu
As we mentioned before, red tegus are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters that need a varied diet of animal protein and plant matter. You can feed them commercially available reptile food such as pellets or canned food, but you should also supplement their diet with fresh food items such as:
- Rodents (mice, rats, hamsters)
- Birds (chicks, quails)
- Fish (trout, salmon)
- Eggs (chicken, quail)
- Insects (crickets, mealworms)
- Fruits (bananas, apples)
- Vegetables (carrots, kale)
Depending on age and size, you should feed your red tegu once or twice a day. Juveniles need more frequent feedings than adults. You should also always provide your red tegu with a shallow dish of fresh water.
Red tegus need a large and secure enclosure to live comfortably. The minimum size for an adult red tegu is 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high. You can use a wooden or metal cage with a mesh top or a glass terrarium with a screen lid.
The enclosure should have the following features:
- A substrate of soil, sand, or mulch that is at least 12 inches deep to allow burrowing
- A basking spot with a heat lamp that provides a temperature of 95 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit
- A cooler area with a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- A humidity level of 60 to 80 percent, which can be achieved by misting the enclosure daily or using a humidifier
- A large water dish that is big enough for the tegu to soak in and drink from
- A hiding place such as a log, a box, or a cave that provides security and privacy
- Some decorations, such as plants, rocks, and branches, create visual interest and enrichment
You should also clean the enclosure regularly and remove any waste or uneaten food. You should also disinfect the enclosure and change the substrate every few months to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi.
Red tegus are generally hardy and healthy animals, but they can still suffer from some common health issues, such as:
- Parasites: Red tegus can get internal parasites such as worms or external parasites such as mites or ticks. These can cause symptoms such as weight loss, lethargy, diarrhea, itching, or skin infections. You should check your tegu regularly for any signs of parasites and consult a vet if you suspect an infestation. You should also quarantine any new tegus before introducing them to your existing ones to prevent the spread of parasites.
- Respiratory infections: Red tegus can get respiratory infections due to low temperatures, low humidity, poor ventilation, or stress. These can cause symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing, nasal discharge, or difficulty breathing. You should keep your tegu warm and humid and seek veterinary attention if you notice any signs of respiratory distress.
- Metabolic bone disease: Red tegus can get metabolic bone disease due to a lack of calcium or vitamin D3 in their diet or a lack of exposure to UVB light. This can cause symptoms such as soft bones, deformities, fractures, or seizures. You should provide your tegu with a balanced diet, calcium supplements, and UVB light miming natural sunlight.
- Obesity: Red tegus can get obese due to overfeeding or lack of exercise. This can cause problems such as joint pain, liver disease, or reduced lifespan. You should monitor your tegu’s weight and body condition and adjust its diet and activity level accordingly.
Take your tegu to a vet for regular check-ups and vaccinations if you suspect an issue or to prevent any from occurring. Be sure to handle your tegu gently and carefully to avoid injuring it or stressing it out.
- Red tegus are intelligent and social animals that can bond with their owners and learn tricks.
- Red tegus are omnivorous and can eat various foods, making them easy to feed.
- Red tegus are hardy and healthy animals that can live up to 20 years in captivity.
- Red tegus are large and powerful animals that can bite or scratch if provoked or frightened.
- Red tegus require a lot of space, attention, and care to thrive. They need a large, secure enclosure, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary check-ups.
- Red tegus are not suitable for everyone. They are not recommended for beginners, children, or people with allergies or sensitivities to reptiles.
Red tegus are social and intelligent animals that can form bonds with their owners and other animals. They can recognize their name, respond to commands, and learn tricks. They can also use tools such as chopsticks to manipulate food items. They enjoy being petted, scratched, and cuddled by their human companions.
However, red tegus are not suitable for everyone. Large and powerful animals can bite or scratch if provoked or frightened. They also have sharp claws and teeth that can cause damage to furniture or clothing. They also need a lot of space and attention to thrive.
Therefore, you should only get a red tegu if you are prepared to commit to its care and training for its entire life span. You should also do your research before buying a red tegu from a reputable breeder or rescue organization. You should never buy a wild-caught red tegu from the pet trade, as this is illegal and unethical.
Interesting Facts About Red Tegus
Here are some interesting facts about red tegus that you might not know:
- Red tegus are sometimes called “red giants” because of their large size and color.
- Red tegus are one of the few lizards that can change their body temperature according to the environment. They can raise their body temperature by basking in the sun or lowering it by burrowing in the soil.
- Red tegus have excellent senses of smell, hearing, and vision. They can smell prey from far away, hear low-frequency sounds, and see colors and ultraviolet light.
- Red tegus have a forked tongue that they use to smell the air. They flick their tongue in and out of their mouth to collect scent molecules and transfer them to a special organ called the Jacobson’s organ, which helps them identify smells.
- Red tegus are one of the few lizards that have eyelids and can blink. This helps them protect their eyes from dust and debris.
- Red tegus have tails that are almost as long as their bodies. They use their tails for balance, communication, and defense. They can also detach their tails if they are grabbed by a predator and regrow them later.
- Red tegus are one of the most popular lizard pets in the world, thanks to their friendly and intelligent personalities. They can even be trained to perform simple tricks and use tools such as chopsticks to move around food items.
Red tegus are amazing animals that can make great pets for the right owners. They are large, friendly, and intelligent lizards that can bond with their human companions and other animals. They also have a unique appearance and some fascinating abilities that make them stand out from other reptiles.
More Lizard Species:
Q: What is a tegu?
A: A tegu is a type of large lizard belonging to Teiidae and Gymnophthalmidae. There are several species of tegus, but the most common one kept as a pet is the red tegu (Salvator rufescens). Tegus are native to Central and South America, where they live in various habitats such as rainforests, savannas, and grasslands. They are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including fruits, insects, rodents, and eggs.
Q: Are tegu lizards dangerous?
A: Tegu lizards are not dangerous if they are properly cared for and handled. They are generally docile and friendly animals that can be trained to respond to commands and show affection. However, they can also bite or scratch if they are provoked, frightened, or stressed. Tegu lizards have sharp teeth and claws that can cause injury or damage. They also have powerful jaws that can exert a lot of force. Therefore, you should always handle your tegu lizard with care and respect and avoid any situations that might trigger aggression.
Q: How much is a red tegu?
A: The price of a red tegu can vary depending on the source, the quality, and the availability of the animal. Generally, a red tegu can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 or more. You should always buy your red tegu from a reputable breeder or rescue organization that can provide you with health certificates and care information. You should never buy a wild-caught red tegu from the pet trade, as this is illegal and unethical.
Q: What do tegu lizards eat?
A: Tegu lizards are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including animal protein and plant matter. In the wild, they feed on fruits, vegetables, insects, rodents, birds, fish, and carrion. In captivity, they need a balanced diet of commercially available reptile food, such as pellets or canned food, supplemented with fresh food items.
Q: How big do tegu lizards get?
A: Tegu lizards can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh up to 15 pounds. They are one of the largest lizards in the world. Males are significantly larger than females and have bigger heads and jowls. They also have two large scales at the base of their tail that are used for mating purposes.