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New Tegu Issues


New Member
Hi all!

After 10+ years of dreaming of owning one of these incredible reptiles I was finally able to get one! I have read dozens of pages, care sheets and forums but seems like this is the place to get the correct answers.

So when I bought my baby home (apparently born in march) he went straight into a 4x2x2. He seemed healthy enough, he was skitty to pick up but was no real trouble getting him out and once out was pretty chilled! My issue was the feeding. He barely ate! A locust or two here or there or a mouthful of turkey no fruit or veg and not ravenous like I expected. I was told the shop that I bought him from fed him 3 times a week so to try that but it seems to have changed nothing. Temps and humidity were good but not perfect due to the heat source being a all in one Heat/uv bulb so no real control.

Since then I have moved him into his adult enclosure, he seemed to love it and explored everywhere! Temps and humidity are on point (Basking maybe a little low as only reaching 100/105f but been told this is ok If not any suggestions to increase as he already has two 150w ceramics with slate underneath) He has multiple hides and deep soil! Now I have two concerns. The feeding doesn't seem to have gotten better (nor worse) but I went almost three days without seeing him. This morning I had to turn the enclosure upside down as I was concerned for him, he seemed happy sat in his mud.

So after some waffle here are my queries...

Feeding - Is this normal to not eat very much? He has barely grown and comparing video and images to other tegus at the age of mine he is small! I keep offering turkey but ignores it! Any suggestions?

Handling - This is a big one, I have read DO NOT PULL TEGU OUT as it can stress them out and they need to feel safe which to me makes perfect sense. My issue with this is that if I leave him alone and do not bond with him with handling or feeding etc etc he will never get to know and trust me? Or is this a marathon rather than a sprit. E.g. handling shouldn't even be possible for months?

Thanks so much in advance, this really is different to the tegu experience I expected :)

There will likely be questions so here are some quick details incase

Bought as Captive Farmed. Supposedly born in march and owned for a good two months now.

Basking spot 100/105 (provided by two 150w ceramics) --- Hot end 85/90 ---- Cold side 80

12% UV light provided

Offering dusted locust, crickets, Dubai cockroach - Turkey - Veg

Enclosure 7x3x2.5

I have kept and bred a wide variety of reptiles for 10+ years so have a good understanding of reptiles but this is my first tegu!


New Member
I’ve learned that your tegu is your tegu. Read him. I mean, also read here because people have really good info but understand it will be conflicting and so you’ll just have to read your individual..I read “just grab them, or you are wasting valuable bonding time” I’ve also read “absolutely never grab them”. I read “never disturb the hide” and the local pet shop said “make sure you wake him so he knows it’s meal times” etc etc. For me... I started with pinkie mice with tongs. He couldn’t resist. I then migrated to where he had to walk over my left hand to get to the alluring pinkie held with tongs using my right hand. The next step was to use the tong feeding to lure him into a little bin. Then once in the bin I would feed him all his faves so he associated the bin with party time. Now, I just open his front door and he eagerly hops into his little feeding bin. The next step was to bond after feeding. I put his little bin, tipped over in the bathtub and just sat on the opposite end and played on my phone, completely ignoring him. Eventually, curiosity overcame and he would approach me. Over time, I started very gently getting him used to being picked up, always just coaxing him onto my hand, never grabbing from behind. He still (5 weeks in) hates my hands, but doesn’t seem to mind the rest of me. He’s loves to climb on me. We’ve graduated from the bathtub to a tegu safed bathroom and he no longer runs away from me but explores the room then returns to climb on me. We also do warm baths. That’s another way to build trust and kind of force them to come to you... when your hand/arm is the only way to get out when he wants to take a break from the swim. I think it’s all about consistency and reading him.


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Well-Known Member
1,000+ Post Club
Prescott, AZ
Good advice from Enderwigginout. I understand the philosophy of do this, do that....but in the end, it's about what your animal will allow. It's trust. It's slow, and sometimes rocky, but when they get to the point of trust - they'll finally be the pet you wanted. I went through a lot with my male Tegu but he's very chill now, and even when I'm messing with him, he knows me, and lets me get away with everything. He used to be Satan's Spawn, and I can't call him that anymore. He's 4ft and quite the bruiser....but now instead of being pissed off about having a human own him, he's pushed down all of his natural instincts and doesn't show them much at all. But, that's with me or my husband. We had someone visit, and he immediately put his back up as if he felt threatened.

I think you have to go with pinkies for the age he is, and most find them irresistable. A raw egg in a bowl is also like Tegu catnip. Be careful about the eggs - they're not for every day use, but I know that 2 a week doesn't hurt at all.

80 deg for the cold side seems a little high, and could send him to burrow to try to escape. I thought your other temps were good. I'd go for low 70's for the cool area.

As far as handling....leaving the animal alone forever will just set you back. You do have to pick and choose your moments though. That's where all the reading his mood comes in. If they are raised up in any way, that is their defensive/easy to strike position. Not a good time to force anything. Start slow...put an old worn shirt that you don't care about into the enclosure so he has your scent at all times. He'll get used to the situation, but they're very individual and some take months longer than others. Use tongs. They WILL lunge at some point and mistakenly grab your thumb. You won't like it.

Good luck - you will do well!

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