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Tegus spending inordinate amount of time burrowed?


New Member
Hi all! First time poster here! I have two tegus and I had a question about them. I'm hoping someone can shed some light on the situation for me.

The first tegu is probably about 3-4 months old. I got it towards the end of March and it was just losing the green on its head at the time. It is definitely a ranched South American import as I know the person who imported them. It is somewhere between 15"-18" or so now, but I haven't taken a good measurement recently.

The other is a 'rescue' that I took in from someone who didn't want their tegu anymore. I'm not sure how well it was kept... they had it under a UV coil bulb at too far of a distance to provide any tangible benefit, imo. They didn't seem to know that they hibernated either and were freaked out about it not eating over the winter. It is a year old and I think it is pretty darn small for its age (about 20" long including the tail). They told me it was a super picky eater, but since I've had it, it has eaten whatever I throw at it like a little piggy. Ground turkey, crickets, fuzzy mice, shredded tilapia filet, etc. They got it as a hatchling around July of last year, so I'm pretty sure it is a North American bred tegu.

Now, my question is this... how long do your tegus generally stay awake during the day? I've noticed that my tegus tend to wake up early in the morning and are usually buried under the substrate and gone by around noon or one o'clock, until the next morning. That means they're staying out to bask about 4 or 5 hours and then going back to sleep regardless of the light levels. Is this normal? My previous experience with lizards, having a bearded dragon for many years, is that they get up with the sun and go to bed when the sun sets. The problem is that if I had a late night (as I work 2nd shift at a hospital), and if I don't wake up early enough, then they've buried themselves and I can't feed them that day without digging them out and potentially upsetting them. One thing I do notice however is that the South American import tegu tends to be the first to bury himself and bed down for the evening/night and the North American captive born tegu stays our for about an extra hour or two. Still, he's usually down for the count by 2:00pm.

Here's a picture of my current, temporary, set-up until I can build each of them a 7'x3' enclosure:

That's a 75 gallon tank, roughly 4' long by 2' wide and about 21" high. Their basking light is a 160 watt Exo-Terra Solar Glo mercury vapor bulb, until the ReptileUV MegaRay I ordered arrives, and it keeps the spot they're under around 100F at a distance of about 18". The right side of the tank is illuminated by a high lumen non-UV fluorescent coil bulb (just a common store-bought GE bulb). At night, a 75 watt moonlight bulb switches on and keeps the left end of the tank, where they tend to bury themselves, around 80-85F; I just recently added that bulb, since the night temps dip into the low 70s in my apartment, and this problem existed prior to its addition. Everything is on a day/night timer set to turn on at 9:00am and off at 10:00pm giving them a 13-hour light cycle. I also have a ReptiFogger piped into the tank which runs for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon.

What occurs to me right off the bat is that either:

(A) the ambient temps get too hot and they burrow to escape it, the way tortoises do in the hottest hours of the day. I don't really think this is the case as it doesn't get THAT hot and they always have the cool end of the tank to retreat to if they felt like it.

(B) the ReptiGlo MVB is a poor quality UVB source and it is harsh or irritating and they want to get away from it. Again, I'm not sure this would be the cause as they bask under it for the several hours they are up and I don't see any squinting or signs of photokeratoconjunctivitis.

(C) they just get bored! Who knows?

Anyone have any input, ideas, or recommendations? How long do your tegus stay up and about during the day? Am I just OCD and worrying too much about my tegus? I do tend to want the best for my animals and get a little nuts about giving them the best of everything. I can admit that! :p

Thanks for reading my whole spiel and I look forward to the responses!


New Member
mine do the same thing, but they only bask for 30mins to an hour and then go back to sleep and then I'll see them for brief periods throughout the day. One comes out more than the other for sure, and they both came from the same breeder.


5 Year Member
Mine goes to bed early, especially if I don't give her attention and take her out. She'll come out at 8am and will go to bed between 1 and 3pm. She's random.


New Member
Okay, cool, so there's not necessarily anything wrong with them then? It's relatively normal behavior to bed down so early in the day? That's what I was primarily concerned about.

Is that something that is mainly hatchling/juvenile behavior, or do adults behave similarly? I know that digging them out of their burrows is not a good thing to do, so I'd hate to feel like I'm racing against the clock as far as giving them time out of the vivarium, or taking them out to the nearby park.



1,000+ Post Club
5 Year Member
i wouldnt worry, my tegus all have there seperate shedules pyro is always up first at 6-7 am then achilles comes out at like 10-11 am, and nero comes out around 12pm-2pm pyro and achilles dont stay out but for maybe 5-8hrs on average and nero will stay out as long as im in the room! rarely do i see any of them out for the entire time the light are on which is 6 am to 8 pm.


New Member
5 Year Member
My colombian sleeps for about three days straight and if I'm not around when he's up, then he'll just stay out for a few hours to bask and run around in search of food. I'm typically able to catch him to feed him whenever he does come out. My Argentine stays out pretty much all day up until the lights get turned off.


New Member
mine is usually out of his burrow about 9 when the lights turn on. but he is still sleeping. then he will bask around 1 or 2 and sleep some more. and around 5 he gets hungry so i get him out and play and feed him. the he will bask for about 30 minutes and is asleep by 7.

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