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New at Tegu-ing

Limbo Linda

New Member
I am a newbie, newbie.....Never in my wildest dreams did I ever plan to have possession of a black and white Argentine Tegu. I soooo do not know what I am doing. He (or she??) belongs to my 14 year old Grandson. A recent divorce turned everything upside down and, somehow, grandma got the Tegu. I'm only caring for him until the dust settles and he can go back to my grandson - which could be several months away. Right now, I manage to feed him stew beef, with a pair of tongs, and I have learned that he likes grapes, but he hates strawberries and peaches. My grandson used to take him out of his habitat and handle him. This is something granny can NOT do!! The thought of reaching in and touching him, let alone getting him out of his habitat, is beyond what I can do at this point. Is that harmful to them? I know they are supposed to be very social creatures and should be handled often. I'm good with his food and water, but that's the end of my care at this point. He lunged at me when I reached in for his water bowl. Do they bite?? This site has been a life saver for me. Thank you all for the helpful, much needed information.
 

rantology

Active Member
Oh my, that's a lot to suddenly have on your plate! Can you list the equipment and enclosure the tegu currently has?

Do you know how old it is (or, how big is it?) You don't need to interact much with it if you don't have to. Some tegus can be a bit aggressive and bitey so if you don't know the animal, it's alright if you just leave it alone for the most part and just make sure its basic needs are taken care of.

Some quick basic needs:
  • Lighting: It will need a heat lamp and a UVB source placed at one end of the cage. These can be one and the same, or two different fixtures depending on what you have. The heat lamp should provide a basking spot of about 110-125 degrees
  • Humidity: Tegus like to be humid, so depending on the setup, it can help to spray the cage down about twice a day
  • Food: Ask your grandson if he had any food stored he could perhaps give you. A staple of either frozen/thawed mice or repti-links of appropriate size would be best. Then aside from those you can offer some fruits and the occasional raw cracked egg. You could also do some ground turkey and mix some vegetables from that list in, if you do the ground meat route be sure to add some calcium supplement to it.
 

Limbo Linda

New Member
OMG! The first thing that grabbed me was the food!! Thawed MICE? How do you feed the raw cracked egg? That's more up my alley. I am so doing this all wrong. Let me go study his habitat and I'll give you a full description. Thanks for the reply and assistance. Limbo Linda
 

Debita

Well-Known Member
Yes, they bite...but mostly when threatened, or by mistake. Keep using your tongs, and be very calm around him. He'll get used to you, but it takes time. He's completely up-rooted and it scares him. Another food they like very much is ground turkey (I use the fattest variety I can find). Just roll it up into balls on a plate and set it in the enclosure. Can your Grandson come visit? I think that would help if that's who he's used to. He should come over to handle him and let him get a little exercise.
I put raw egg in a shallow dish and they lap it up like a dog. They do try to bite the yolk, but then they just get that tongue going. This is only recommended about twice a week. Don't overdo the egg. Mine loves salmon, and I always drip fish oil over almost everything I feed.

They're super smart, and will calm down. You might end up not wanting to give him up!! ;)
 

Limbo Linda

New Member
You have been so encouraging and helpful. I'm still trying to figure out all of the equipment in his habitat - but, frankly, I think he is going to need a bigger habitat. He's in the largest standard reptile habitat and it looks like it is closing in on him. My husband is not going to like that idea. I know how expensive these can get!
 

Debita

Well-Known Member
Lol - Already warming up??? It's happening then. You're about to become hooked. ;)

Tegus are easier to handle from when they're young, but it can be done with older, especially if they've already been handled a lot. Unfortunately, it might take more time. Do you know how old he is? That huffing and puffing he's doing can last awhile. Could he be between a year and 2 yrs old??? That's the roughest time that most Tegus go through. They have temper tantrums, snit fits, moodiness (especially when shedding) and behavioral changes that catch everybody off guard. One of the most commonly asked questions that we get here, is "why is my Tegu acting up right now, he's never done this before?" That, or...."He/she stopped eating and just wants to sleep" - which is their natural state in the winter months called "Brumation". The answer for the first question is (most times) that the animal has gone into it's 2nd year of life, and it's aptly called "puberty", which basically says it all. They are a little more ferocious and demanding. I had a female though, that didn't do any of that. She just sailed through it like it was nothing. I've never heard anyone mention if males are a little worse with puberty. It wouldn't surprise me.

Have you gotten your calcium yet?? Rantology mentioned this because it's extremely important - especially if you're not ready for feeding frozen/thawed mice. They naturally prey on small rodents and wild eggs including aligator eggs.. Lots of people get quail eggs, but I just use organic chicken eggs because there's nothing too good for my Skully.

Their favorite place to be scratched is on their jowls/ears and around the head. They kinda lose it over a good ear rub. You'll know this right away, because they'll close their eyes, and exhale. Let the bonding begin!!!!!
 

Limbo Linda

New Member
LOL You really have no idea how much I am the least likely person to own one of these, let alone care for one. He {or she??} only wants to sleep. When I approach his habitat, he opens his eyes and watches me, but he never moves. When it's his meal time, I approach his habitat, he watches me, then we see whether or not he intends to eat that day. I hand feed him using tongs. After several minutes of coaxing him, if he intends to eat, he will finally take the meat or grapes, etc. If he has no intention of eating, he deliberately moves and turns his back on me. It is obvious what he is doing. I respect his wishes and leave him alone. But, a few days ago, I mustered up the courage, opened his habitat, all while he was watching me and, slowly, I reached in and touched him on his back. He bucked my hand (well, finger) off of him so abruptly and deliberately that I thought perhaps I had startled him. So, I decided to try it again. Nope, same response. So, it was a start......I'm trying. He is just finishing up his shedding, which may be making him grumpy right now. I bought him for my grandson 2 years ago this month. I assume he was a baby at that time, so I'm guessing he is right at 2 years. It's funny to me how clearly his actions communicate his feelings or wishes. But, meanwhile, Granny keeps trying to break the barrier.
 

Zyn

Well-Known Member
Post some pictures of the set up, lighting, heating, and the tegu and we can try and go from there with further advice
 

Debita

Well-Known Member
You're doing great...that bucking action is a very mild behavior that from my experience is just his way of telling you to get lost. I don't pay attention to it, and I start going forward toward his head, and rub his ears/jowls. He's an adult now and is most likely over his puberty. Which means, also most likely - he's just upset at being uprooted and given a new caretaker. I think he'll get used to you quickly. Let him take his time, and he'll know quickly you're not a threat.

Like Zyn said - it's time now to focus on his technical care...
 

Limbo Linda

New Member
I'm getting concerned. He/She hasn't eaten ANYTHING in 2 weeks. He has been shedding for at least that long. I offer him food everyday, but he turns his back on me and closes his eyes, in his usual fashion... What shall I do?
 

Debita

Well-Known Member
They are good at not eating - I would still say don't panic. Especially since he could have started his brumation process before you got him. Does he look healthy otherwise? No sniffling - coughing, serious weight loss? What temp are you keeping him at in his enclosure? Does he have a basking light that provides a good 110 degrees or more?

I think he's sulking. Do you have the same enclosure that your grandson had for him? If it's new, he can hold out for a long time without food. It's amazing how much they don't like being uprooted. Try some ground turkey that is average meatball size (try 5-6 of those on a small plate), and skip the fruit and veggies. My adult male doesn't touch those - yours might be the same. Do you live by a reptile store? You really need to get some frozen adult mice - I'm getting mine lately at LLLReptile (west coast) that come 10 in a bag for $10.00 total. The price may have gone up, but that was the last I paid. They can't resist mice (thawed) - but use your tongs. I accidentally got very badly bitten by dangling the mouse with my fingers. He didn't realize he did it, but he lunged at it, over-shot the whole thing and got my thumb. He def didn't know he got my thumb. It wasn't fun prying off his jaw with my left hand. Honestly, I'm not trying to scare you AT ALL. This was my fault. He wasn't trying to bite me, but accidents can happen.

If you're east, you might try Premium Crickets - I know they have them, but not sure if the price is as good. (premiumcrickets.com)
 
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Zyn

Well-Known Member
If he refuses a thawed mouse then it’s either a temp issue or brumation. My female sleeps for months during brumation in a low 50s high 40s garage all winter
 
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