Black and White Tegu
A beautiful lizard from South America, the Black and White Tegu is considered the largest American lizard weighing nearly 20 pounds. It is generally a hunter of small prey animals including snakes, lizards, frogs, young birds, mice and insects. But occasionally, perhaps bored with this meager sized diet the Tegu hunts bigger prey, the 100 pound guinea pig relative, the capybara!
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Certainly the Tegu could never eat the whole capybara and there is no evidence that any Black and White Tegu has ever killed one. Instead the tegu acts a parasite, it attacks the capy from the rear, launches itself up at the capy’s back, sinks in it’s teeth, tears our a lump of flesh and then retreats back into the forest. An animal that takes a meal from another without killing it, like a mosquito or a vampire bat is a parasite, not a predator. Early 20th century artwork. Prior to widespread photo use in books, this is how the scientific world knew the Black and White Tegu, the average person would not have heard of them.
Though they are quite good natured lizards most of the time, an angered Black and White Tegu could cause significant damage. Take note of the peg-like conical teeth that face backwards. When the mouth closes on an opponent or prey, the jaws are locked down tight. Escape is close to impossible.
Author Bill Boesenberg