Argentine Black & White Tegus (Tupinambis merianae)
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The Argentine Black and White Tegu, (Tupinambis merianae), is the largest species of Tegu. It is also known as the Argentine Giant Tegu. It belongs to the teiid family. Tegus fill ecological niches similar to those of monitor lizards, and are an example of convergent evolution.
They are an omnivorous terrestrial species that inhabit the tropical rain forests of east and central South America. Just as many other reptiles, Argentine Tegus will go into brumation (a form of hibernation) in autumn when the temperature drops. A level of intelligence unusually high for reptiles has been observed, along with a high level of physical activity during the wakeful period of the year. It is believed that individuals of this species sometimes actively seek human attention, as would for example a cat or dog.
As hatchlings they have a yellow complexion with black markings; the yellow eventually fades to white within a couple of months after shedding. Adult males are much larger than the females and can reach 3 feet in length at maturity and continue to grow to lengths of 4-4.5 feet. The females are much smaller reaching up to 3 feet in total length, from nose to tail. They have beaded skin and linear stripes running down their bodies.
Some Black and White Tegus can be bred with the Red Tegu and Blue Tegu.
Argentine Tegus make good pets, as they have a tendency to become attached to their owners and are generally quite docile as adults. A well cared for animal will live for 15 to 20 years in captivity, and possibly even longer in the wild. However, as with most reptiles, if not handled regularly they will show more aggressive signs since they are less comfortable with the handler.
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