Golden Tegu Fact File


Golden tegus are one of the largest land based lizards in South America. Their thick body is covered with glossy scales that are striped with orange and black. They have a thick tail which makes up as much as half of their body length.

Tegus show a range of similarities with the monitor lizards which are found in Africa, Asia and Australia. These include a forked tongue which is used to help them smell the air. This forked tongue allows them to smell two things at once.

Their body length is between 80 and 110cm (32-43in) long. Their weight averages 4kg (8.25lbs).


Golden tegus are omnivores. Their diet includes a range of fruits, shoots, invertebrates, eggs, birds, mammals, lizards and carrion.

The bite of the golden tegu is strong enough to crush bone.

golden tegu

Scientific Name

Tupinambis teguixin

Conservation Status

Not Evaluated


4kg (8.25lbs)


80-110cm (32-43in)


12-20 years



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South America and a range of offshore islands are the home of the golden tegu. They can be found throughout Colombia, Venezuela, Isla Margarita, Tobago, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Trinidad, Argentina, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana.

An introduced population has been identified in Florida, USA.


They make their home in forest clearings and on river banks.

golden tegu


During mating the male will grab the female by her neck and then place his body under hers.

Following a successful mating the female golden tegu will deposit 7-12 eggs in to a hole in the ground or the base of a termite mound. Termite mounds are used as they provide a constant temperature throughout the incubation period.

It will take the eggs 3-5 months to hatch. If they are laid in the ground the female may remain with them.


They are successful swimmers.

Communication involves the two golden tegus making a loud, snoring noise which can carry over long distances.

golden tegu

Predators and Threats

Adults face predation from cats while juveniles face threats from larger lizards and snakes. They defend themselves against predators by clawing them or using the tail as a club.

Humans will hunt golden tegus for use in fashion trade and to eat.

Quick facts

The golden tegu is known by many names including the black tegu, common tegu, Colombian tegu and the tiger lizard.

Photo Credits


CC BY-SA 3.0,


By Charles J Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, CC BY-SA 4.0,


By Margoz - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley, p.337.

The Reptile Database. 2020. Tupinambis Teguixin. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 13 September 2020]. 2020. Control Of Invasive Tegus In Florida | The Croc Docs. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 13 September 2020 2020. Gold Tegu-Encyclopedia Of Life. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 13 September 2020].].

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