View Full Version : The Unholdable Tegu

12-10-2005, 10:44 PM
I got my tegu a good week and a half ago. I've been trying to leave him alone as much as possible since he's in a new enviroment and just went through UPS. He just shed everything but his tail, he's eating pretty well, he's sleeping like normal, but he just has a freaking cow when you try to hold him. He's suddenly petrified of people. I know that his old owners held him a lot. They showed me 20 pics of him being held. What advice can you guys give me on calming him down. How long should I leave him alone. I try to hold him probably once every 2 days. He was okay the first time but after that its been rough. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

12-10-2005, 10:55 PM
I would give him more time to adjust to his surrounding and feel safe..But Im not an expert, Ive only got a baby.

12-10-2005, 10:56 PM
this one is 8 months old... forgot to mention that

12-10-2005, 11:01 PM
How old is your tegu? Baby and young tegus are generally quite flighty compared to older ones, purely because practically everything is a threat to a small lizard ;) This is something that usually becomes less evident with age, as larger tegus seem mellower and less nervous.

A lot of people on here have commented that they can usually hold their tegus in their hands ok - its usually catching them thats the problem. Is this the same for you? If so, as I mentioned above this is probably something that will gradually get better. Some tegus will calm significantly once you have them out of the cage and rested against your body. As a primarily ground dwelling lizard, they prefer to have something under their feet, and so may squirm a lot if youre holding them by the body - try to scoop them up under the front and back feet at the same time if your tegu is small enough to be held in this way.

As a point of interest, is the opening to your cage at the top or the side? If youre coming from the top, you can startle your lizard (mine aimed a quick tail flick at my boyfriend when ew brought him home and he lifted the edge of the carton lid to touch him). I found that my tegu didnt ac threateningly towards me when I moved a hand towards him from the front so he could see it coming and test it with his tongue. In fact, I still approach my tegu in this way so that he knows whats coming - and so that he doesnt think I might have food and lunge at my hands ;)

Stick with it - very few tegus will be calm all the time, particularly when theyre young. A few pictures of it being held doesnt mean that it will be a pushover - only that someone has managed to catch it at some point ;)

12-11-2005, 12:53 AM
Yeah...... I've had my little 14" guy for about a month and just started making progress with the handling part.

The first couple weeks I never even saw him and he ate very little. I offered him fresh ground turkey, banana, mealworm and pinkies every day, all of which went untouched. I didn't handle him at all in that time because he hid constantly.

After about a couple weeks of hiding I guess he got hungry and went crazy for a bunch of crickets! I fed him about 15-20 per day. He also started coming out to bask everyday, probably only because his tummy was full of crickets. I would take that opportunity to ease into his cage, moving really slowly, he didn't like fast movement and would often bolt and hide.

I started picking him with a small wash cloth because the tail whipping freaked me out. The cloth covering his body seemed to calm him down and he didn't tailwhip when I picked him up. After getting him out of the cage I uncovered his head so he could see me and let him lick at my free hand. I then gently eased him out of the wash cloth, keeping a tight grip on him. While he was out I took the opportunity to soak him. I went through all of this about every other day for a couple weeks.

Now he's okay when I get him out of his cage, except today he reverted back to the tail whipping crap so I had to utilize the cloth method. When he's done soaking he knows the only way out of the tub is to crawl into my hand and up my arm so I've built a little trust in that department.

Have patience, these are still wild animals and take some work.

He final

12-11-2005, 04:47 PM
I would agree that a little time alone to settle in is neccessary and start off slow with trying to handle them meaning if it's only being able to get your hand in the enclosure for petting. Not all mellow out right away as it takes a while for them to trust you. Johelian makes some good points that I would agree with as to young ones are more flighty, they like their feet on the ground, holding them and catching them is 2 different things, and reaching in from above startles them - It's best IMO that they see your hand coming for them rather than by surprise.

I recently picked up a female Argentine at about 1.5 years old and the second day home was allowing me to pick up and hold on my chest without any fuss - the first day I just petted and allowed her to flick her tounge at my hand - She is very mellow and obviously had much human contact with the previous keeper. Not bad at all for having her for 2 days.

My male which I had since it was around 2 weeks old, don't like being held in your hands above the ground, 4 feet rested on my arms or chest is another story - he's just fine. He is more of a task to catch though from free roam time, not that I think he is scared, however I'm taking his free roam time away and he knows he is going back into the enclosure so sometimes he throws a little tizzy - You just can't let them make the rules or they will know how to react to make you avoid them.

I would reccomend you start daily with some kind of interaction "even if it's just getting to the point of him allowing your hand in the enclosure and petting" - Talk to him, be slow with him, but don't let him make the rules. Be patient and don't get frustrated with him either - He didn't ask to be your pet, but given time to gain trust in you and to know you are not going to harm him, he will make a fine pet - Some come around quicker than others - Time and gradual interaction is key...

12-14-2005, 08:40 PM

I tried the whole cloth thing. No good with this guy. He whipped his tail so hard that I'm suprised he didn't tear the cloth. Thanks for the suggestion though!

12-14-2005, 10:51 PM
Holy Cow! I thought mine was naughty! :( Sorry, he'll come around :)

12-16-2005, 01:56 AM
just keep working with him. It may take a while but keep being persistent and he should come around.

12-17-2005, 03:34 AM
Just let him chill some more to adust to his new surroundings, but not to long. Handling on a daily basis will help his temperament in the long run. Cloth and glove theory is a bad idea! Just freaks them out even more. It is crucial to handle Tegus at a young age to control their temperaments. 8)

12-17-2005, 07:41 AM
also, and I think someone had mentioned this, I truly belive from my experiences that tegus can sense fear. When I first got my golden tegu he was a nightmare to hold let alone let me clean his cage. I would often hesitate with my movements because he would huff and puff and open his mouth. I quickly learned that when I acted confidently and directly, he would act very differently. To be fair, he had his bad days where no matter what I did, he would lunge at my hands, but for the most part the method worked well.