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They Grow So fast!

Posted on: June 17th, 2021

Our Argentinean black and white tegu Tommy is now 16 months old and getting bigger by the day! When Tommy first came to us he was a new hatchling and fit comfortably into the palm of our hand. Now he is almost two feet long! In another year or two from now, Tommy will be about three and a half to four feet from nose to tail. This is the typical adult size of a male tegu.

Size is an important consideration in any animal, but especially for many reptiles, like Tommy. Many other species start out tiny and reach a very large size by the time they are adults. Such as Sulcata Tortoises. When they hatch, Sulcatas are only about two inches in length. But they can grow upwards of 100-150lbs! This is important to know upfront because it means they will need different care requirements depending on their size. When Tommy was first came to Zoology he could be easily housed in a 40 gallon reptile terrarium. Since then he has moved into his own 10ft by 10ft enclosure to ensure he has enough room to regulate his temperature, comfortably move around and continue to grow.

Because of his size, it is very important that we can safely interact and handle him. Safe and stress free interactions allow us to better assess his daily health and activity, transport him to vet appointments, soak him multiple times a week and weigh him. All of which are necessary to ensure he stays healthy. Our dedicated staff all practice consistent and safe handling practices on a daily basis which has helped him overcome the reactivity he had when we first knew him. Some of the practices include: sitting quietly in his enclosure so he is used to the presence of people, gently petting his back and tail, and once he was used to that, picking him up and holding him, increasing the length of time as he became more used to it. Now he even seeks out interaction with us and enjoys the occasional back scratch.

While technically an omnivore (one who eats plants and meat), Tommy would like us to believe he only eats meat. When he was much younger, Tommy especially liked blueberries and other fruits. He enjoyed digging around in his salad and trying a little bit of everything. Currently, like many youngsters, he ignores most fruits and veggies. Preferring whole prey like frozen and thawed mice and eggs. He is still a good boy though, and will eat meat off of a fork! We continue to offer Tommy salads several times a week, hoping to tempt him with a wide variety of veggies and fruits.

Tommy has been a wonderful animal to work with, raise and watch grow. We are excited to continue to see his size and personality develop!

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