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From passive to active taming?

Discussion in 'Tegu Taming and Handling Discussion' started by Jorgo, Nov 2, 2019.

  1. Jorgo

    Jorgo New Member

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    Hey folks!

    I wasn't sure how else to word this thread title, so pardon if it sounds odd.

    Amigo, my red argentine tegu, is doing quite well. While he can still become startled and jump/dash, he is generally chill. However, due to changes in schedule for work (more shifts for the holiday season), I have not been able to dedicate my usual amount of time to interact. I am not sure if because of this, or merely a 'stage' within the taming process. For instance, he has seemed more wary of my hand than usual

    What I currently do is pretty passive: I lay my hand in his tank, often next to him to bask XD. I do pet him under his chin, snout, cheeks, neck and have even been able to graduate to rubbing his back some. I also slide my hand under him and allow him to use me as a basking spot (mind you all this is without taking him out of his enclosure)

    I am considering a more active/aggressive approach: Holding him, even if he doesn't like it until he has calmed down. Not necessarily restrain mind you, but keeping him moving in my hands. For the same token, I have been considering starting harness training as well, for more activity despite less time. And I won't lie I am in fact nervous and perhaps a bit afraid of holding him/picking him up, despite having done so without incident. Though all that was in the tank, I am willing to do what is needed

    *Disclaimer: I know a tegu ain't a dog and should not expect 'puppy dog tame'. While that would be nice, my goal is 'tame enough to handle safely when full-grown'

    So should I move to a more active/aggressive taming style or continue my more passive approach? Or is this just perhaps a rough patch and I am overthinking it/being too worried?

    Amigo is about 2 months old now (I don't know his exact hatch date, but he was only about 9 inches when I got him in September)
  2. Ivyna J Spyder

    Ivyna J Spyder Member 5 Year Member

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    I have mixed feelings about 'active' handling like forced holding. Honestly all you're doing there is teaching them 'learned helplessness'.

    Check out videos on how they train zoo animals. Lots of target training and clicker training stuff

    If they can train alligators and lions to accept handling without stress, I think we can apply the same to our pets.
  3. rats

    rats New Member 5 Year Member

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    Tegus don't need constant handling to be "tame" -- but they do need some. They aren't like lions and alligators -- they do want to have some physical contact with you, not just direction (like those animals are trained for with clickers etc.). The only way to get your tegu used to you, and being handled by you, is to provide some handling time. This can be a few minutes a day for starters, longer when you have the time (and Amigo has the interest = isn't acting like he wants to get away from you). Don't be afraid; if he hasn't done anything to make you fearful of him, he likely won't do anything to you. My tegus don't bite anyone!

    How old is Amigo? Baby, juvenile, adult? If he's an adult, and isn't used to being held, it will take longer for you to get to that stage. Your passive approach is a good one; as he gets used to your hand/arm being in his cage with him, and your hand under him, you can try to pick him up after your arm has been under him for a little while -- assuming he's small enough for you to pick him up with one hand/arm? Once you pick him up, quickly cuddle him against your chest so he doesn't think he's going to fall down (or put him in your lap if you can sit next to the tank). Hold him firmly so he feels secure; if he continues to squirm, after a few minutes (give him a chance to calm down) you can return him to his cage and try again another day. If he calms down, speak softly to him, hold him securely, and just let him get used to you.... the next time should be better :)

    I have to admit that having raised my Foley from a baby, I've never had a problem picking him up and getting him to snuggle with me. We have a juvenile tegu from Tegus Only (Florida re-homed tegu) who was a little skittish when we got him/her (can't tell sex, no jowls like Foley, too young!) earlier this year, but s/he allows us to pick him/her up without any problems now. We gave Jake a couple of weeks before trying to handle her (I don't want to type "it" but him/her is too much), then we spent time every couple of days or so -- not every day. S/he's pretty calm -- like Foley, but still a bit skittish around new people. But I have no trouble picking her up, taking her out of her cage, and holding her.

    Wishing you luck in getting acquainted better with Amigo!
    Walter1 likes this.
  4. Jorgo

    Jorgo New Member

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    Amigo is a baby...I think. Is 4 months old still a baby for Tegus? XD

    And indeed, he has done nothing to make me afraid of him. At most he hisses sometimes when I pet him, but never makes to run away (now), bite or whip. I tend to back off when he does this, as so far my experience with him tells me he just isn't in the mood for interacting at the moment. Learned when he starts doing that, he just isn't for it and will either try to get away or head into his cave where he knows I won't bother him. Even if he does come out, I let him be for awhile and than he is content for pets ^_^

    I have continued the passive approach. He more or less let me go anywhere. Legs, head, tail and back. I am now even able to lay my hand on his back and he is content. Though he will wiggle a bit when he wants me off, or do the usual light hissing to say 'not now'.