Sonoran spotted whiptail (Aspidoscelis sonorae) 3.5" long

Spotted whiptail, photo by Jim Rorabaugh, USFWS

These slender brown lizards with creamy stripes can be seen almost everywhere in southeast Arizona skimming along through brush and vegetation. They are active during the day, especially in the morning and late afternoon, eating termites and other insects. They reproduce asexually with all the hatchlings being clones of the mother (parthenogenetic reproduction). Sonoran whiptails are very similar in appearance and closely related to the Gila spotted whiptail (Aspidoscelis flagellicauda) which is found slightly farther north in Arizona, along the Gila river. The photo below shows the western whiptail. (Photo by Jim Rorabaugh, USFWS)

The long tail seems to be a survival asset with certain predators; housecats frequently chase these lizards and catch them by the tail. The tail will breaks at the closest point, leaving kitty without much of a lunch. Whiptails are part of the staple diet of the roadrunner (which seems to avoid this problem by grabbing the little fellow by the middle). Whiptails can be seen during the warm months almost anywhere is southeast Arizona, in grassland, in the shrubbery in parks or in hedges around buildings.

Map showing towns