Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

Arizona Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis arizonae) Arizona

Cochise County, AZ

Arizona Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis arizonae), Arizona
Cochise Co., AZ
Arizona Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis arizonae), Arizona
Cochise Co., AZ

 ARIZONA STRIPED WHIPTAIL  Aspidoscelis arizonae  

DESCRIPTION: A small (up to 72 mm or 2.8″ from snout to vent) slim, brown to dark reddish-brown lizard with a long, thin, tail and a slim, pointed snout. The tail is bright blue and there are seven light yellow stripes on the body. On some individuals the mid-dorsal stripe is incomplete and/or very narrow. The face, feet, and underside are tinted pale blue distinguishing this lizard from other whiptails in Arizona. It is further distinguished by its lack of spots on the body. The similar Pai Striped Whiptail usually has six stripes on the body instead of seven. The body scales of the Arizona Striped Whiptail are small and granular. The scales on the tail are large, keeled, and rectangular. The belly scales are large, smooth, and rectangular and the scales on top of the head are large, smooth, and plate-like.

DISTRIBUTION: In Arizona there are only three known populations of this lizard – two in southern Graham County and one in northern Cochise County. In our state it is found at elevations ranging from 3,500′ to about 5,000′.

HABITAT: Arizona populations are within the Semidesert Grassland and Chihuahuan Desertscrub communities. Primarily an inhabitant of low valleys and sandy flatlands.

BEHAVIOR: This is an active, diurnal, ground-dwelling lizard. It is frequently seen foraging or basking in the mid-morning sun. It hibernates during the cold months of winter and late fall.

DIET: This lizard actively forages by rooting around in organic matter under bushes, clawing bark, and digging in the soil around the bases of rocks, and other surface debris. It feeds on a variety of insects, spiders, centipedes, and small lizards.  

REPRODUCTION: Mates in spring and lays one or two clutches of eggs in spring or summer. Clutch size ranges from 1 to 3 eggs.

By Thomas C. Brennan

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2005. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Degenhardt, W. G., Painter, C. W., and Price, A. H.. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque.

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Arizona Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis arizonae) Arizona Range Map


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