Black and White Tegu: here’s the scoop


The black and white tegu is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, large population, and because it is unlikely to be undergoing significant population declines. However, this species is hunted for its skin, human consumption, and to a lesser degree to supply the commercial pet trade.

Committed to Conservation

Our tegus, Frankie and Roosevelt, are important members of the Zoo’s Animal Ambassador Program and currently live behind-the-scenes. You may see them out with educators for encounters, special events or school programs. The animal ambassadors at Buttonwood Park Zoo are working ambassadors of their species and of their wild counterparts.  They stimulate interest and appreciation, dispel myths and fears, reconnect visitors with the natural world and stir all those they encounter to action. 


Black and White Tegu

Scientific name

Salvator merianae


Tropical savanna, forest clearings, secondary forest, and disturbed habitats including edges of roads and agricultural areas


Omnivorous. Eating anything from fruits, seeds, arthropods, small vertebrates, carrion and eggs

Life Expectancy

15 – 20 years

Did you know?

Tegus are sexually dimorphic. This means that the males and females look different.  Males can grow up to 5 feet in length and can weigh as much as 35 pounds. They also boast an impressive set of jowled cheeks that distinguishes them from their female counterpart. 


Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay

Conservation status

Least Concern

Widespread and abundant