Specimen of Salvator merianae in the Buenos Aires Zoo
Tegu Species :
1- The Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae)
, also called the Argentine giant tegu
The Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae), also called the Argentine giant tegu, is the largest species of tegu lizard.They are an omnivorous species which inhabits the tropical rain forests, savannas, and semi-deserts of east and central South America.
Argentine tegus have unusually high intelligence. It has been observed and recorded that some will regularly and clearly seek out human affection, just as a dog or cat might. Some form a strong attachment to their keeper. Some have been reported to come on command; they can also be house-broken.
Like many other reptiles, Argentine tegus go into brumation (a form of hibernation) in autumn when the temperature drops. They exhibit a high level of activity during their wakeful period of the year.
Tegus fill ecological niches similar to those of monitor lizards, and are an example of convergent evolution.
An adult female black and white tegu.
Argentine black and white tegu
Conservation status :
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification :
Binomial name :
A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1839
Salvator merianaeA.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1839
Teius teguixim— Gray, 1845
Tupinambis teguixin— Boulenger, 1885
Tupinambis merianae— Dirksen & De la Riva, 1999
Salvator merianae— Harvey et al., 2012
The specific name, merianae, is in honor of German-born naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian.
As hatchlings, they have an emerald green color from the tip of their snout to midway down their neck with black markings. The emerald green becomes black a couple of months after shedding. As young animals the tail is banded yellow and black, as they age the solid yellow bands nearest the body change to areas of weak speckling, fewer solid bands indicates an older animal. Tegu will drop a section of their tail as a distraction if attacked. The tail is also used as a weapon to swipe at an irritating animal or human.
Adult males are much larger than the females and can reach 3 feet (92 cm) in length at maturity. They may continue to grow to lengths of 4 – 4.5 feet (120 to 140 cm).
The females are much smaller, but may grow up to 3 feet in length, from nose to tail. They have beaded skin and stripes running down their body. Adult females can reach a weight of 2.5 – 7 kg.
Salvator merianae has recently been shown to be one of the few partially warm-blooded lizard, having a temperature up to 10 °C (18 °F) higher than the ambient temperature at night time. However, unlike true endotherms such as mammals and birds, these lizards only display temperature control during their reproductive season (September to December), and for that reason are said to possess seasonal reproductive endothermy. Because convergent evolution is one of the strongest lines of evidence for the adaptive significance of a trait, the discovery of reproductive endothermy in this lizard not only complements the long known reproductive endothermy observed in some species of pythons, but also supports the hypothesis that the initial selective benefit for endothermy in birds and mammals was reproductive 
Tegus are omnivorous. Juvenile Argentine tegus in the wild have been observed to eat a wide range of invertebrates, including insects, spiders, and snails. They also eat fruits and seeds. As they grow they become more predatory and the protein content of their diet rises. They may seek out eggs from other reptiles and from birds' nests, and will eat small birds and other vertebrates. In adulthood Argentine tegus continue to eat insects and wild fruits, and it is assumed that such components include desirable or essential nutrients.
In captivity, tegus commonly are fed high protein diets that include raw or cooked flesh, eggs, insects, and small rodents. The inclusion of fruit in the diet is recommended, though many captive tegus do not readily eat fruit. However, there is evidence that, as in most husbandry of carnivores, it is good practice to cook most of the egg in the diet, so as to denature the protein avidin, that occurs in the albumen. Raw avidin immobilises biotin, so excessive feeding of raw eggs may cause fatal biotin deficiency.
As household pets :
Argentine tegus make amenable pets, as they tend to become attached to their owners and are generally quite docile as adults. They are intelligent and can even be house-broken. A healthy tegu can live for 15 to 20 years in the wild, and possibly even longer in captivity. However, as with most reptiles, if they are not handled regularly they will show more aggressive behaviour; their bite can be painful and damaging due to strong jaws and sharp teeth.
n 1839 this species of tegu was originally described as Salvator merianae. However, beginning in 1845 and continuing for 154 years, it was confused with Tupinambis teguixin, and was considered a synonym of that species. In 1995 it was again given species status as Tupinambis merianae because subsequent studies had shown that it and the gold tegu, Tupinambis teguixin, are distinct from each other. In 2012 the Argentine black and white tegu was reassigned to the resurrected genus Salvator as Salvator merianae.
S. merianae is called the "Argentine black and white tegu" to distinguish it from the "Colombian black and white tegu", which is another name for the gold tegu. Unscrupulous or incompetent pet dealers sometimes pass off gold tegus as black and white tegus.
S. merianae and T. teguixin can be distinguished by skin texture and scale count:
-S. merianae has two loreal scales between eye and nostril.
-T. teguixin has only a single loreal scale between eye and nostril.
-S. merianae has round pupils whereas Tupinambis species have reniform pupils.
The two prominent loreal scales between the eye and nostril of this black and white tegu, plus its round pupil, identify it as belonging to the genus Salvator.
A black and white tegu seen in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
For the external links , refrences click here to read the full wikipedia article
Brian Gundy Shares How He Cares For His Black And White Tegu
Care Articles :
1- Salvator Tegu Species
courtesy to : yourtegu.com/tegu-care-sheet
BY LAURA ROBERTS
Tegus are widely distributed throughout South America where they are tolerant of a variety of habitats. Salvator merianae and Salvator rufescens inhabit the central and western regions of the continent in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia. They are an introduced species to Fernando de Noronha Island and the United States, being found in south and central Florida. Tegus are hunted mainly for skins, the commercial pet trade, and human consumption by locals to a lesser degree. In 1999 the export quotas from Argentina and Paraguay were 1,350,000 skins per year. The population of tegus is monitored for decline and the species are CITES-listed Appendix II animals.
Tegus need plenty of open space for basking.
In 2012 a number of tegu species were reclassified from Tupinambis to the previously used genus Salvator. The newly proposed classification comes from a restructuring of the Teiidae family based upon the study of 137 morphological characteristics. The new classification is as follows: Salvator duseni (yellow or Duseni’s tegu), Salvator rufescens(Argentine red tegu), Salvator merianae (giant tegu, Argentine tegu, blue tegu), Tupinambis teguixin (Colombian black and white, gold tegu), Tupinambis longilineus (Rhondonia tegu), Tupinambis palustris (swamp tegu), Tupinambis quadrilineatus (four-lined tegu).
Tegu Availability :
Multiple species are found in the international pet trade: Salvator merianae (Argentine or giant black and white tegu, blue tegu), Salvator rufescens (red tegu), andTupinambis teguixin (Colombian black and white or gold tegu). Tegus are becoming more common in the pet trade each year. Although they make wonderful reptile pets, their large size and expensive appetite should give potential owners cause to pause and think about providing for a large lizard over its entire life span.
Male and female red tegus.
If you are considering purchasing a tegu, there a number of well-known breeders in the US and Europe. Although many countries are closing their borders to export in an effort to protect their natural fauna, wild-caught specimens from South America can still be found each year. Wild-caught tegus from southern Florida are also showing up in the pet trade. Buyers should be cautioned to ask about the origins of the tegu for sale if they are wanting a captive born and bred animal. Familiarity with the different species is suggested as less valuable tegus such as T. teguixin are often sold as “black and white tegus” to unknowing customers looking to purchase S. merianae.
Tegu Size :
Large males can reach a length of an impressive 60 inches, however most tegus range in size from 40-50 inches and weigh 8 to 15 pounds. As a rule, males are stockier than females and develop prominent jowl muscles giving them a “cheeky” appearance.
Tegu Life Span :
Tegus can live to be 12-20 years old in captivity.
Enclosure size is determined by total length of a large lizard, but bigger is always better for this active animal. Tegus are active in the daytime, roaming their enclosures and digging in the substrate. A gradient in temperature and light provided in a properly sized enclosure, give areas to bask, find shade, feed, drink, and sleep. The minimum length of the enclosure should be twice the length of the entire body. The tail is included in length measurements because it is also an important feature in thermoregulation. The minimum width should be snout-tail length, and the height tall enough to allow for deep substrate and bulb placement. If multiple animals are kept together, allow an increase of one half of each dimension per additional animal. If plants and logs are added to the enclosure, allow for half of the floor space to remain open for ease of movement.
Tegus are prolific diggers and climbers.
Most adult tegu enclosures are 8ft x 4ft wooden or acrylic cages. Hatchlings can be kept in 30, 40, and 55 gallon enclosures then upgraded as they grow. If temperatures allow, tegus can be housed outdoors in secure enclosures. They are avid diggers and climbers. Precautions must be taken to ensure that they cannot dig out underneath the floor of the habitat or climb the wall to escape.
Hatchling red tegu.
Lighting and Temperature :
While a single bulb may be sufficient for a hatchling tegu, cluster lighting is the best way to achieve a proper basking area for an adult. Basking temperatures are measured at the surface with an infrared temp gun. Young tegus less than 30 inches in length will only need a surface basking area of 115 degrees while adult tegus will prefer an optimal surface temperature of 125-135 degrees. Current trends have moved away from measuring the ambient temperature of the basking area and instead look to the surface. A series of flood lights at lower wattage provide a larger and more effective basking zone than one higher wattage flood. The ambient temperatures of the coolest side of the enclosure during the warm months are in the mid-70’s climbing to high 80’s on the hottest side.
During the winter months, many tegus brumate. Picking up on shorter days that also bring changes in humidity and atmospheric pressure, they gradually slow their activity level, eat less, and remain in their burrows/hides.
The use of UV-B bulbs in lizards has gone through a variety of debates. Carnivores have the ability to obtain all of the Vitamin D3 they need through a proper diet, however some herbivores rely solely on the sun to allow their bodies to produce Vitamin D3. No concrete data has been obtained on the Vitamin D requirements of omnivorous reptiles such as tegus. It is known that Vitamin D can be manufactured and regulated in the body in safe amounts in the presence of UV-B. This fact supports the addition of UV-B in the enclosure. Since UV-A and UV-B also drive some of the behaviors of reptiles, adding it to the enclosure of captive reptiles can only add to their well-being.
Cypress mulch was the most recommended substrate in years past. As Cypress has become less available due to environmental concerns and keepers have turned to healthier options for their reptiles, soil/sand mixtures are growing in popularity. Sand is mixed with 30-50% topsoil and/or coconut coir as needed to maintain a consistency that can hold a burrow. Ideally, at least one end of the enclosure will have 1-2 feet of substrate so that the tegu can engage in normal digging behavior. If the substrate is of the right consistency and depth, the tegu can create his own home that will hold a healthy amount of humidity and the owner has the satisfaction of observing natural behavior.
Commercial potting soils can contain additives such as fertilizer that are harmful to reptiles. Be sure to select an organic brand or select a safe spot in which to dig your own soil. Dark soils can stain a lizard so coir is often used as a mixture instead of black topsoil. Be sure to keep the substrate moist so that dust does not irritate the tegu. Adding a layer of leaf mulch on the top of the substrate can help to retain moisture. It is not necessary to bake or disinfect any soil or sand added to the substrate. Small organisms that inhabit the soil naturally will decompose small bits of fecal matter and leftover food, creating a bio-active substrate. Providers can be found on-line that sell isopods to help create a bio-active substrate.
Once your tegu is accustomed to your presence and tolerates being held, he/she can then be exposed to new situations that lead to socialization.
Tegus have a hearty appetite which makes them easy keepers as reptile pets. They are omnivorous, however juvenile tegus require more protein overall. Studies of tegus in their native habitats have found that the diet consists of roughly 30-66% plant material (mostly fruit), 15-40% invertebrates, and 20-28% vertebrates. The diet of juveniles was approximately 48% invertebrates, 22% plant matter, and 16% vertebrates. Tegus do well on a whole prey diet with the addition of plant matter. They are prone to obesity which seems to occur most often when overfed rodents and fatty ground meats.
Supplementation is important to tegus as adults and growing juveniles. Multivitamins can be given weekly but plants provide the best source of vitamins and phytonutrients. Many pet reptiles suffer from low calcium in the diet. Calcium needs to be present in the diet at a ratio to phosphorous of 2:1. Because nutritional data is not always readily available for all food items, adding calcium to any food item without bones becomes the rule. Adding Vitamin D to the diet is not necessary if the tegu is eating whole prey items instead of muscle meats and has access to high quality UVB.
Water and Humidity :
In their native South America, tegus live in subtropical regions that may have periods of flood alternating with periods of arid conditions. While they easily adapt to changing humidity they do best when kept at 60-80% overall. Humid hides can be provided by adding moist sphagnum moss to a hide box or daily misting of a burrow.
Many tegus enjoy soaking in their water and appreciate a pool that is large enough for their entire body and tail to fit comfortably inside. Since they often defecate in their water, bowls and pools need to checked and cleaned daily.
Handling and Temperament :
In the wild, tegus are opportunistic hunters actively searching for small prey to catch or tracking the location of fruit on the ground. This makes them a reptile pet that is inquisitive and easy to condition. If they have a repeated positive association with their handlers, tegus come to know that humans are non-threatening.
Baby tegus are naturally flighty as they see most of the world around them as large and dangerous. Older untamed tegus are bolder and can be defensive if scared, whipping their tails and biting. Patience, consistency, and frequent episodes of short handling will get them used to your presence. Do not pick your tegu up every time you are near the enclosure. Some time may be spent just touching the ground in the cage or sitting close to the enclosure. If there is a favored food such as blueberries or hornworms, save those for a treat to be given while he/she is being handled by you. Make every association with you a positive association. Feeding before handling can take the edge off of a hungry tegu. Keeping a freshly worn shirt in his hide will associate your scent with a secure place. Be careful not to let a tegu associate your hands with meals or he may become aggressive in his cage and lunge at you when being fed. Once your tegu is accustomed to your presence and tolerates being held, he/she can then be exposed to new situations that lead to socialization. The result is a reptile companion that is intelligent, entertaining, and enjoyable to be around.
2- Argentine Black and White Tegu
courtesy to : regalpet.com/pets/655-argentine-black-and-white-tegu
The Argentine black and white Tegu is large reptile that can be found around the eastern and central parts of South America, but are most commonly seen in Argentina. The Argentine black and white Tegu is not one of the most popular pet reptiles; however, it is one of the best pet reptiles for the novice reptile owner. It is also one of the largest pet reptiles that is appropriate for novice reptile owners. They are also called the Argentine Giant Tegu.
With daily socialization and gentle handling, Argentine black and white Tegus are one of the friendliest of pet reptiles. However, Tegus vary in personality and some are far more outgoing than others; some Argentine black and white Tegus will seek out attention, while others will remain slightly reserved. Without socialization, Argentine black and white Tegus can be shy and timid, and even aggressive. They are usually not given to biting, but will if they are extremely frightened. Argentine black and white Tegus are intelligent and are one of the most trainable of pet reptiles; they can be trained to come when called and do simple tricks like a dog or cat. Argentine black and white Tegus are happiest when kept in small groups; they are best kept in groups of 2-3, with one male per group. Male Tegus may fight with other males.
Full grown Argentine black and white Tegus are fairly large and require a large habitat to live in. Argentine black and white Tegus require at least a 60 square foot home to live in; the focus of the enclosure should be more on length and width than on height. When setting up an enclosure for an Argentine black and white Tegu, owners should try to imitate their natural humid and tropical habitat as much as possible. The bottom of the aquarium or enclosure should be lined with about three-inches of astro-turf, bark chips, or peat soil. The aquarium or enclosure should include some large flat rocks and branches for the lizard to bask, climb and sleep on. The enclosure should also include a reptile hide for the lizard to sleep in and a large pan of water for them to bathe in. The enclosure can also include some real plants; however, as the Tegu will eat them, owners need to be sure they are non-toxic. The temperature in the enclosure should be around 80 Fahrenheit in the daytime, and about 75 Fahrenheit at night time, and the basking area should be around 100-110 Fahrenheit; the basking light should be used only during the daytime. Owners will need to mist the aquarium once to twice a day, since the Argentine black and white Tegu needs to have around 70 percent humidity.
Appearance and Care:
Argentine black and white Tegus measure 3-5 feet from nose to tail tip when full grown and weigh around 10-15 pounds, with females being smaller and lighter than males. Argentine black and white Tegus have white bodies with black markings and stripes.
Argentine black and white Tegus enjoy daily bathing and require fresh bath water each day; unclean bath water can lead to water-borne parasites.
Argentine black and white Tegus are omnivores that eat a variety of food. Argentine black and white Tegus will eat almost anything that will fit in their mouths; they eat crickets, grasshoppers, super worms, mice, rats, small reptiles, hamsters, small chicks, ferns, melons, pears, mangos, white fish such as tilapia, papaya, apples, bananas, and strawberries. Large extremely hungry Argentine black and white Tegus could even eat small cats, kitten, tiny toy dogs and puppies; but this rarely happens with domesticated Tegus.
Argentine black and white Tegus have a life expectancy of 15-20 years, but some healthy individuals can live to be 25 years old
Other websites :
10 Facts About the Argentine Black & White Tegu
Here’s a listing of the top 10 facts about the Argentine Black & White tegu, one of our favorite species of reptile. Backwater Reptiles just received a shipment of adorable hatchling Argentine black and white tegus. The little guys were so tame and we really enjoyed playing with them during our photo shoot, so naturally we wanted to shine the spotlight on these great little lizards. Read on to learn some facts about the Argentine black and white tegu.
1. The Argentine black and white tegu reaches a moderately large size. Adult males can exceed four feet in length and females will be slightly smaller, usually around three and a half feet in length. Hatchlings are generally not longer than eight inches.
JULY 15, 2015 ~ BACKWATERREPTILES
This hatchling tegu is in his “trailer” preparing for his photo shoot. What a diva.
2. Tegus make great pets for people prepared to keep a lizard of their size. They become tame and don’t mind being handled and their personalities are often likened to that of a cat.
3. Due to their size at adulthood, Argentine tegus will require a large enclosure. The more walking space they have, the better. Adult males should have enclosures that are no smaller than six feet long by two feet high.
4. Argentine black and white tegus can be housed together, provided you have a space large enough for them. They will need to be monitored closely however as breeding aggression can occur during their mating season.
5. These tegus need a daytime ambient temperature of 80 to 90 degrees to thrive. Night time temps can be anywhere from five to ten degrees cooler. They will also require a full spectrum UV light basking source in captivity, despite the fact that they burrow often.
6. Due to their burrowing habits, Argentine tegus should have a substrate in their enclosure that supports this habit. Coconut husks, orchid bark, and cypress mulch are all acceptable options.
7. Argentine black and white tegus are interior designers – they tend to rearrange the furniture in their enclosures to their liking, so it’s generally wiser to keep fewer decorative items (plants, large rocks, etc) in their homes. This will ensure they don’t harm themselves while burrowing underneath or pushing these items around the cage.
8. These tegus are omnivores and will eat lots of different types of food. Their staples are generally insects and protein items, but they should be offered fruit from time to time. Some tegus will enjoy the fruit while others will ignore it, but either way, variety in their diet is important.
9. Argentine tegus rarely bite, but hatchlings can be squirrelly and squirmy! Make sure to handle yours frequently to get it used to you. Be sure to never offer food with your hands as this could lead to improper association between food and your hand and therefore unintentional biting and aggression.
Handling one of our captive bred baby Argentine Black & White tegus.
10. It’s not unheard of for this species of tegu to live beyond fifteen years provided they are given proper care.
Tegu Species :
1- The Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae)
2- The Argentine red tegu, (Tupinambis rufescens)
4- Other Tegus