So I have a question if you're willing to divulge the information (and it's perfectly understandable if you don't wish to!), but a friend and I were having a discussion about reptiles and we got talking about Iguanas and although we were both youngish at the time you would see them EVERYWHERE cheap and being panned as these great animals (to ME Iguanas are a reptile for masochists) but anyways, this lead to us realizing that Tegu are starting to become the new iguana.. 1/2
2/2 they’re starting to become readily available, cheap, and have a cool factor to them. So if possible -and any larger reptile owner feel free to add to this! Would you be willing to tell of what your weekly, monthly, and yearly expenses as well as anything else that popped up that you didn’t expect just to show people that it’s not just a cool looking animal but a potentially and certainly expensive reptile to own? I understand this can be a personal topic and understand not wanting to share.
OH MY GOD I FEEL THE SAME WAY tegus really do not need to become the new iguanas. This is a fantastic question and I’m thrilled to answer it.
SO. Weekly expenses… don’t really work out because a lot of purchases are made in bulk (food, etc.) every month or couple of months, but here’s a basic overview of how much things cost the first year I had her. Well. If I’d done things ideally- remember, I was foolish and tried to free roam her. HAD I done things appropriately with a cage, here’s how much it would have been. As it was, I did end up spending more than this trying to make free roaming work. Which most of the time it absolutely does not and I’m glad I stopped when I did.
Enclosure- I spent about 130ish on the grow tent and another 60ish bucks in materials to fix it up. That is absolutely the cheapest tegu setup you can make, and it’s not ideal for everyone- most enclosures you should plan for the 600+ dollar range. A PVC cage from a place like BeegerBoxes runs about a grand. I buy two 60 dollar lightbulbs a year, plus another 11 for her halogens and 10 for her CHE. The four dome lights cost me about 60 in total. The substrate I use costs 66 bucks every time the entire thing gets changed out. The swimming pool was about 25 and her water dish was I wanna say like… 20? Her big fake log was 35 and… ok I have no idea how much that footstool she stole is, but the crinkle tube was about 10 bucks.
Total initial setup cost: 527 (in nearly ALL cases it will be more, I just lucked out with the grow tent idea.)
Then there’s vet checks! I needed a carrier, and the one I liked best (has a harness clip, comfy fleece pad, and places for heat packs if necessary) ran me about 35. I spent about 80 a visit and she goes at least once a year. But wait! She hurt her lip! Add another 200 in followup visits and medication! I keep a few hundred bucks in an emergency savings account for vet visits. That’s non-negotiable. I put that aside in the first year I had her- it’s sitting pretty at 400 plus interest.
By the end of the first few months, I’d spent about $832. Factoring in the savings account, that’s $1232. That’s not even including Juju OR the nonessentials. All the extra stuff? That cost more.
Then the food. I have some receipts for this- in the first year alone, Kaiju ate about 60 dollars’ worth of rats, about 100 dollars’ worth of reptilinks, and god only knows how much fruits, veggies, fish, and other stuff I could get at the grocery store. Let’s call the annual food bill 240? I might be lowballing that. So by the end of the first year, that puts her at like… $1492. Almost fifteen hundred dollars in the first year alone. Over twelve months, that works out to about $124 a month. Putting that in perspective: that’s about the cost of two additional Comcast bills. It’s like paying for two extra internet connections from a company that sees price gouging as a way of life. Can you afford two extra Comcast bills an entire month for a year? If no, then probably don’t get a tegu.
Now, that does peter down over the years- I don’t start from scratch every summer. But I do change out that bedding four times a year (or more if she doesn’t brumate), and I do buy two new MVBs every year- those are the 60 dollar lightbulbs. And she still eats probably about 300 dollars of food a year. She also gets an annual wellness visit. So that makes the minimum yearly cost about $764 (the ASPCA averages small dogs to be about $580 per year, to put that in perspective) and that’s again not counting extra stuff I buy to make her life more interesting. That’s about $64 a month… which is almost one additional Comcast bill. Can you afford an additional Comcast bill every month for the next 10+ years? Tegus are not cheap pets to maintain; to have a good quality of life, they need some seriously good care. There’s ways to do it cheaper, but if you’re impulse-buying a big reptile, you very likely do not have the know-how to do safely! You can certainly breed and grow much of your own food- that’ll help save money- but that also has initial startup costs, and requires the time and space that a lot of people just don’t have. I’m not saying they aren’t amazing pets- I mean, Juju’s the best thing to ever happen to me- but I am saying that they’re a commitment that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.
And THEN there’s another monthly cost: Energy bills. Mine are included in my rent so I don’t actually know how much that is. So I can’t be much help there, unfortunately! But that can get really expensive.
TL,DR: First year? Two extra Comcast bills per month. Rest of her life? One extra Comcast bill per month. If you can’t commit to that, then don’t get a tegu.