- A-Z Animals
The gold tegu, also commonly called Columbian tegu, golden tegu, or black tegu, is a species of large lizards found in Central and South America. The word ‘tegu’ is an Amazonian tribal term for ‘lizard’. Although it looks like a monitor lizard, the golden tegu is distantly related to the latter. It is an aggressive reptile species and will pounce on any small animal that it can overpower. Unlike the red tegu or black and white tegu from Argentina, the gold tegu usually does not make a good pet. It can, however, be tamed with frequent careful handling.
Size: These are large-bodied lizards, with an average length of 60-100 cm (24-36 in).
Weight: Adult golden tegus may weigh up to 3.5-4.0 kg (7.7-8.8 lb).
Color: They have alternating black and golden bands over their body and tail.
Body: They possess a sturdy, glossy body with strong legs, and a thick, long tail.
Sexual dimorphism: Males can be easily differentiated from the females by the small spurs that exist on the sides of their tail.
Its native range includes the tropical regions of South America and Panama. The lizard has also been found in Florida, in the US.
This lizard typically inhabits tropical rainforests that are close to water bodies like swamps, lakes, or rivers. It also lives in open areas that encircle forests and places near agricultural lands. It is sometimes found in the mountainous regions along the eastern side of Andes.
While the average life expectancy of these reptiles is 10-15 years in the wild, captive golden tegus can live for 20 years or more.
It is primarily a carnivore and prefers eating small animals. It preys on insects, birds, fish, reptiles and their eggs, as well as small mammals like mice and rats. It may eat fruits, such as berries, grapes, squash, apples, pear, and pumpkin when available.
Its breeding season comes after it emerges from winter brumation, which is a state of lethargy and rest (but not the same as hibernation). The female tegu deposits 12-30 eggs in a nesting burrow, which is bounded with straw and leaves. It enters the nesting site and remains in it, taking care of the eggs and protecting the burrow. Babies hatch from their eggs after an incubation period of 154-170 days.
The gold tegu has not been listed under the US Federal List, IUCN Red List, or any other programs.