Argentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merinae)

Origin: South America
Sighted at: ZooKeeper Exotic Pets, Austin, Texas

This is, like the Surinam toad, another animal I’d never seen before in my life! I thought it was a monitor lizard when I first saw it, and for good reason – tegus and monitors are both large lizards that predate on the same kinds of animals. Tegus, however, live exclusively in South America (although a decent number have invaded the Everglades after escaping from captivity). They’re not closely related to monitors – I think they look a little more like iguanas, myself.

Tegus are brainy, and can even act affectionate toward their owners!