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I'm a new tegu owner too! Please read about tegu behavior.

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Posted by reptilian9 on May 11, 2003 at 22:32:50:

Hello everybody! I've been reading all the posts here since I decided to get a tegu 2 weeks ago. I'm an experienced herp owner, I've had water dragons (1 lived to be 15!) and savanna monitors mainly, but now I have an Arg Red Tegu baby. I was about to get a CB baby savanna, but I fell in love with the tegu! I haven't measured, but he looks around 12 inches head to tail. I'm happy to say he/she is very tame (I'll just say he in this message, but I hope it's a she). I trust him enough already that he'll climb on my shoulder and my body and he's calm enough that he doesn't run off (although I know he's capable). He's eaten 3 fuzzies (as soon as he got home) and I found out he likes red grapes. I've tried mangos, (he ate one slice), kiwis, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and mealworms. He took interest to all the items, but only eats the grapes and occasionally mango slices. He LOVES fuzzies and eats them right away, but has not eaten any mealworms. I will try crickets soon. I was so happy when he finally ate a grape!

Anyway, getting to my question... When I bought the tegu, I didn't know they were such solitary animals. I didn't realize he would be burrowed most of the day (I've only caught him basking once, but I'm at work all day). That's fine, but even my old savannas would be out more - but I think my tegu still needs some time getting used to his cage. My question is about his behavior. My tegu is so tame, I have no fear of him biting me (but I'm sure he will one day), and he's as sweet as can be, but he is shy. Any time I take him out, all he tries to do is walk off (not run) to a dark hide spot. If I'm sitting down, he'll crawl behind my backside and just stay there. When I saw him basking, I walked up to him, and he slowly went to his hide spot. He's so much more tame than a savanna I had that would whip and hiss any time I walked by, but I just hope this one will get over this shyness stage. I suspected he was shy when I got him (he was the one tegu in the hide), but the ones that were not in the hide were not nearly as calm and tame. He looks healthy and I'm sure he has energy, his basking temps are ~110 and cool side is ~78. He stays mostly in his hide (or burrowed under his hide) on the hot side - he can go to the cool side if he needs to adjust his temps.

I don't mind if he stays burrowed a lot like a normal tegu, but I want him to be not as shy when I take him out. The pictures I see on these forums show tegus out in the open, people holding them, it doesn't look like they're trying to walk away to hide (although I'm sure those pictures aren't easy to get and this is just normal tegu behavior). Like I said, he was in his hide when I first met him, and he actually was the smallest tegu in the enclosure if that has anything to do with it.

Is there any hope that he will get more social? It's only been 2 weeks, but obviously I feel like I'm intruding if every time I take him out he tries to find a dark corner. I take him out to feed in another aquarium, but I leave some fruit in a dish in his enclosure. Of course, I have to reach in and pick him up to feed him, but I will say he doesn't give me a hard time at all (he's usually asleep so I nudge him and get him up, and he just sort of tries to walk away slowly as I pick him up and he digs his nose into the substrate).

I'm sure people will say I'm stressing him out by pulling him from his burrow, but he's always in his hide or burrowed. I've read all over not to take them from their burrow. He doesn't seem stressed or show agression when I do dig him up, and I like to remove him to feed him.

Any suggestions? I know this e-mail was way too long, but I like to be descriptive. I appreciate anybody who took the time to read this and any responses will be great! I'll post some pictures and videos soon.

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