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Taming advice

Discussion in 'Tegu Taming and Handling Discussion' started by lizardwizard, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. lizardwizard

    lizardwizard New Member

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    What's the best way to go about taming an 11 month old tegu? She was noted to be pretty tame from the breeder, and she let me remove her from the shipping bag. On the first day she crawled over me, even up my shoulder, and took some food from tongs from me. She's getting used to her enclosure, and when I went to approach her today, she clearly was telling me to go away -- arched her back and puffed, so I didn't force her. I kept gently touching her back and she'd continue to puff at me, but I wouldn't move to touch her anymore than this. I did feed her again via tongs within her enclosure. I would like to get her used to eating in a tub/bin, but am not sure if it would be a wise idea to grab her when she's clearly uncomfortable and stick her in a bin to try to get her to eat. Is it okay for me to keep offering her food in her enclosure for now?

    I've read a lot about how to work with new hatchlings, but I am a little uncertain on how to approach her since she's a bit older. I know some people recommend "force handling," but I'm not really sure what's best for starting the taming process with her just yet. I am fine to go slowly, too, if that would be the better route as I want her to trust me, but am definitely looking for some second opinions.
  2. Skeep

    Skeep Active Member

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    Hey, congrats on the nice gu!

    I think the advice for working with hatchlings still applies to all ages of tegus. Being around her and letting her know you're not a threat is the ultimate goal.

    If you feel she will let you touch her, which she seems to (which is a great start, by the way!), move your hand slowly towards her and only rub the top of her head and snout. They are a little more nervous about getting touched on their bodies. If she seems relaxed when you rub her head, then try petting along her back. I don't know if it's true of all tegus, but I found my tegu felt more comfortable with firm strokes than with gentle pets.

    I wouldn't grab her unless it is absolutely necessary. It is best to slip your hand underneath then and then lift up. There should be lots of good advice on the forums for how to lift a tegu. If she will let you, then great! And if she learns that being lifted gets her food, she might start coming onto your hand on her own. Maybe start by rubbing her head and then moving your hand underneath her. If she huffs a little I think it's ok, but generally take your time and don't force her. If she climbs off your hand or shows more threatening displays then I would remove your hand and try again later.

    Other than that, try to move your hand towards her from the side rather than from above, if the enclosure will allow it. Natural predators attack from above so approaching from the side makes them less wary.
    EnjoysWine, lizardwizard and Walter1 like this.
  3. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Advice I would follow. One added suggestion is a chin rub if at first shy about a hand above her.
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  4. lizardwizard

    lizardwizard New Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I was actually able to give her some head/neck scratches a few minutes ago, and when I got up to walk away she padded over to the front of the enclosure to look and see where I'd gone. My instincts are telling me to go with the patience route, and not force her into anything unless I absolutely need her to. :)
  5. Zyn

    Zyn Active Member

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    In your pictures she looked like the breeder handled them a lot so they did a lot of the hard work for you :) now you get to enjoy a somewhat already tame tegu. She just has to know you’re the master/ giant vending machine person thing.

    Funny thing is I have 5 dogs and the tegu responds as well or better to food based reward training
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  6. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I'm telling you, Zyn, and anyone else, this species will physically and mentally do more for a treat than many mamy species we know.
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  7. lizardwizard

    lizardwizard New Member

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    Yes, the breeder definitely handled her, which I am really thankful for. :) I've been feeding her via tongs for the past few days and even as she takes food from me she is very gentle about it. I had her out in the bathroom earlier and she walked around mostly exploring, but occasionally I'd feel the tickle of her tongue as she'd come to investigate me.

    The biggest "difficulty" I have is in picking her up. I get my hands under her, but then she flips out and starts tail whipping -- I don't let go and just hold her until she stops. Is there a better way to go about this? I have small hands, and it was suggested that maybe she doesn't feel 'secure' when I pick her up.
  8. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Easy. do it sitting on the floor cross-legged or in such a way that lifting goes immediately to a place not high from her ground if possoble.
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  9. AlphaAlpha

    AlphaAlpha Active Member

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    Alphas favourite place to be tickled is just behind the ears on his jouls...:D
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  10. lizardwizard

    lizardwizard New Member

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    So it's been a few days since I posted. I've mostly been feeding her with tongs and giving her head/neck scratches, which she seems to tolerate. No puffing, back arching, or tail lashing, but I haven't attempted to take her out of her enclosure for 2-3 days. She's mostly being a lazy lizard and coming out to bask, eat, get a little scratch, and then go back to sleep. When I'd been taking her out before, I was opening the door and letting her come out on her own and then I'd pick her up. Is it best to wait for her to want to come out for now since she's only been here about a week still?
  11. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Good work. I'd wait another week or so before activeky moving her. Remember to speak to her when nearby, etc.
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  12. lizardwizard

    lizardwizard New Member

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    I've gotten to the point where she will crawl out onto my hands and then up my shoulder so I can get her into the bathroom more easily. The past few days she's spent exploring and then coming around to check on me -- sometimes flicking her tongue at my hands, trying to dig under me, or even crawling up my chest and onto my shoulder. I think we've been making pretty good progress, so far -- no huffing, back arching, or tail lashing.

    Today I had her in the bathroom and she started digging at my arm before coming to rest her head on it. A few minutes later she gently bit my arm and let go before then biting again and holding on for a second before shaking once and then letting go again. I didn't see any aggressive posturing before this, nor did I move quickly. Is it possible she just wanted to see what that part of my arm tasted like? Barely broke the skin, and I certainly don't hold it against her (my thoughts are anything with teeth can bite). She behaved just fine afterwards too -- no posturing. Just kind of went about her business.
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  13. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Great progress. The biting sounds like testing for food.
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  14. Skeep

    Skeep Active Member

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    I agree with Walter, that sounds awesome! And the biting does sound like she's checking if you're edible or not. It's a good thing for them to learn before they get bigger ;-) My tegu starts licking something when testing for food before biting, so perhaps you can also watch for that as a warning sign.
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  15. AlphaAlpha

    AlphaAlpha Active Member

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    I agree .... I wouldn't worry too much about it ... it just sounds like the others say and testing for food ..... part of growing up and realising it's world around it .
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  16. grapebasil

    grapebasil Member

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    Perhaps with the picking up it might help to get her to crawl onto an old flannel shirt. That’s what I’ve been doing with my beardie because my hands are too small to support him the way he likes. It creates a little more of a platform and they can grip onto that while you rearrange onto a forearm. We’ve been doing it with our baby tegu when he gets huffy and he seems to like the shirt much more than hands.