Not quite sure what tegu supplies you will need to care for your new pet? We’ve got you covered. In other words, we did the shopping for you. 😉
Although we have provided links to products that we recommend, please support your local independently-owned pet stores whenever possible.
- Appropriately sized enclosure
- Terrarium décor/enrichment
- Heat bulbs and fixtures
- T5 high-output UVB fluorescent bulb and fixture
- Food bowl
- Calcium supplement without vitamin D3
- Multivitamin supplement
- Large water dish/tub
- Digital thermometer/hygrometer (x2)
- Infrared temp gun
- Reptile veterinarian
How to Choose a Healthy Tegu
Most Argentine tegus in the US are CBB (captive bred and born), but many Colombian tegus are still WC (wild-caught). CBB tegus are easier to tame and more likely to be healthy. WC tegus are difficult to tame and more likely to be loaded with parasites and other forms of disease.
If you are buying a tegu in-person, you are most likely at a pet store or reptile expo. You have the luxury of examining the animal up-close and personal, so use this opportunity to give it a thorough check-over:
- Are the eyes clear and free of discharge?
- Do the lips close completely, with no areas where the lips part even though the jaw is closed?
- Is the tegu able to breathe with its mouth closed, or is the mouth gaping open?
- Is the skin unblemished and limbs whole, or are there scars/open wounds?
- Is the skin smooth, or wrinkled (sign of dehydration)?
- Is the body firm and plump, or can you see/feel bones in the tail and legs?
- Is the tegu energetic and active, with head up? Or is is lethargic, with its head down and eyes closed?
- Is the tegu curious about you, with tongue flicking, or does it try to run away?
- If you can, look at the belly. Are there burn scars or poo stains?
- If you can, run your hand over the tegu’s body. Are there any unusual lumps/bumps/swellings?
- If you can, watch it eat. Does it eat with enthusiasm?
If you’re at a pet store, look at the enclosure:
- Is the substrate clean, free of shed skin, spoiled food, dirty water, or excess poo?
- Is there both a heat source and UVB?
- Is the glass clean? Generally a clean enclosure means that the animal inside is well cared for.
If you’re buying from a small independent pet shop, ask where they sourced their tegu and if they can give you the name of the breeder. If they don’t know, ask if you can get that information from the manager. If they are still unwilling to disclose that information, it’s a good idea to walk away.
Buying from a Breeder
Whenever possible, buy from a breeder who specializes in tegus, not a big-box reptile distributor (Underground Reptiles, Backwater Reptiles, BHB Reptiles, etc.). The narrower the focus, the more likely you will receive a healthy animal. Personally I recommend buying tegus exclusively from breeders, as you’re more likely to know what you’re getting. Of course, buying from a breeder often necessitates buying online, which means extra fees for overnight shipping.
If you have multiple good options, go with your gut and pick the one you personally like best.
Should you buy a hatchling or adult?
If this is your first tegu, buy a hatchling. Hatchlings are smaller and easier to handle, and if you make a mistake, a bite from a hatchling is no big deal. Hatchlings are also easier to tame down, often growing into “puppy-dog tame” adults. Adopting an adult tegu, particularly an untamed tegu, is best left to experts with plenty of prior tegu experience.