Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

New Mexico Whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicana)
Hidalgo County, New Mexico

New Mexico Whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicana)
Hidalgo Co., NM
New Mexico Whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicana)
Apache Co., AZ

 NEW MEXICO WHIPTAIL Aspidoscelis neomexicana  

DESCRIPTION: A small (up to 82 mm or 3.25″ from snout to vent), slim, brown to black lizard with a long, thin, blue or gray-green tipped tail, and a slim, pointed snout. The body is marked with seven yellow or cream colored stripes and numerous light spots. This is the only whiptail in Arizona with a wavy mid-dorsal stripe. The scales on the body are small and granular. The scales on the tail are larger, keeled, and rectangular. The scales on the belly are large, smooth, and rectangular. The scales on top of the head are large, smooth, and plate-like.

DISTRIBUTION: This lizard was not known to occur in Arizona prior to the 1998 discovery of a small population near the Puerco Ruins at Petrified Forest National Park. The elevation at this location is approximately 5,500′ or 1,675 m.

HABITAT: The Arizona population of this lizard lives on a sandy, shrubby floodplain within the Plains Grassland community.

BEHAVIOR: This alert, diurnal, fast-moving ground-dweller is most active in the mid-morning and late afternoon. It hibernates during the cold months of winter and late fall.

DIET: It actively forages by rooting around in organic matter under bushes and digging in the soil around the bases of rocks, and other surface debris. Prey consists of termites, beetles, moths, grasshoppers, ants, and a variety of other insects and insect larvae.

REPRODUCTION: All New Mexico Whiptails are female (parthenogenetic). Eggs are unfertilized and hatchlings are clones of the mother. One or two clutches of 1 to 4 eggs are laid in June and July. Hatchlings typically begin to emerge in late July.

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

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

New Mexico Whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicana) Arizona Range Map


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