CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


California Whiptail - Aspidoscelis tigris munda

(Camp, 1916)

(= Cnemidophorus tigris mundus)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Tiger Whiptails California Range MapRange in California: Orange

Click the map for a guide
to the other subspecies



observation link





California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
Adult, Contra Costa County Adult, Contra Costa County, with some unshedded skin still attached.
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
  Adult, Contra Costa County   Adult, Fresno County
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
Adult, Sutter County © Jackson Shedd Adult, northern Santa Clara County
© George Chrisman
Juvenile, Lake County Adult, San Benito County
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
  Juvenile, Kern County  
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
Adult, northern Ventura County
(in potential intergrade zone with
A. t. stejnegeri
) © Patrick Briggs
Adult, Kings County
© Patrick Briggs
Adult, Tulare County © Patrick Briggs
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
Adult from North Fork Feather River Canyon near Rock Creek in
Plumas County at about 2300 ft.  © Railfan
Adult, Santa Barbara County
© Jennifer Cox
Adult, southern Santa Clara County
© John Worden
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail  
Adult, Solano County © Adam G. Clause Adult, Monterey County © Bo Zaremba  
Great Basin Collared Lizard Whiptail Whiptail Whiptail tracks
Whiptails, genus Aspidoscelis, have small granular dorsal scales. Eye open on the left, and eye closed, on the right,
showing the transparent lower eyelid of this species.
Whiptail Tracks in sand
       
California Whiptail Defecation
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
This is a series of pictures showing how a California Whiptail defecates. (Viewed from left to right, top row then bottom row.)
The white part is a solid plug of uric acid, which is followed by the darker feces. © Wim de Groot
       
Habitat
California Whiptail Habitat California Whiptail Habitat California Whiptail Habitat California Legless Lizard Habitat
Habitat, Contra Costa County Habitat, Contra Costa County Habitat, San Joaquin County
Habitat, Kern County
California Whiptail Habitat San Joaquin Coachwhip Habitat California Whiptail Habitat California Whiptail Habitat
Habitat, Riverside County Habitat, San Joaquin County Habitat, Fresno County
Habitat, Contra Costa County
  California Whiptail Habitat    
  Habitat, Stanislaus County    
       
Short Video
  California Whiptail    
  A California Whiptail forages on the slopes of a Contra Costa County mountain.    
     
Description
 
Size
Aspidoscelis tigris as a species is 2 3/8 - 5 inches inches long snout to vent (6 - 12.7 cm), up to around 13 inches (33 cm) total length.

Appearance
A slim-bodied lizard with a long slender tail, a pointed snout, and large symmetrical head plates.
Scales on the back are small and granular, and scales on the tail are keeled.
The belly is made of large, smooth, rectangular scales in 8 lengthwise rows.
The tail can reach up to two times the length of the body.
Color and Pattern
The back and sides are gray, tan, or brown, marked with dark spots or bars or mottling, which is often very sharply defined. Dark marks on the side don't form vertical bars.
Usually 8 faint light brown stripes are present, but stripes on the side are sometimes indistinct.
The throat is pale with with large black spots.
Often there are reddish patches on the sides of the belly.
The tail tip is dark or bluish.
Young
The tail tip is bright blue on juveniles.
Juveniles have fairly well-defined stripes.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Diurnal.
Wary and very active, moving with abrupt stops and starts, side-to-side head movement, and tongue flicking.
Often seen digging rapidly when foraging.
Difficult to approach - typically foraging near cover, and capable of quick bursts of speed into heavy brush or holes.
Diet and Feeding
Small invertebrates, especially spiders, scorpions, centipedes, and termites, and small lizards.
Breeding

Unlike some species of whiptails which are all females, there are male and female western whiptails.
Males and females usually begin mating in May and females lay eggs shortly thereafter.
Females lay one clutch of eggs per year.
Eggs hatch from May to August.

Geographical Range
This subspecies is endemic to California, ranging throughout the Central Valley, west to the coast just north of the Monterey Bay, and south through the South Coast Range to Ventura County where there is a zone of intergradation with A. t. stejnegeri.

The species (Aspidoscelis tigris) ranges from North-central Oregon and southern Idaho, south through California and Nevada to Baja California, and east into Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico and south into Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico.

Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
The species is found at sea level to 7,000 ft. (2,130 m). This subspecies may differ somewhat.

Habitat
Hot and dry areas with sparse foliage and open areas. Found in forests, woodland, chaparral, riparian areas.

Notes on Taxonomy

Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Cnemidophorus tigris stejnegeri - Coastal Whiptail (Stebbins 2003)
Cnemidophorus tigris multiscutatus
- Coastal Whiptail (Stebbins 1985)
Cnemidophorus tessselatus tesselatus - Common Tesselated Racerunner (Smith 1946)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None
Taxonomy
Family Teiidae Whiptails and Racerunners Gray, 1827
Genus Aspidoscelis Whiptails (formerly Cnemidophorus) Fitzinger, 1843
Species tigris Tiger Whiptail (Baird and Girard, 1852)
Subspecies munda

California Whiptail (Camp, 1916)
Original Description
Cnemidophorus tigris - Baird and Girard, 1852 - Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Vol. 6, p. 69
Cnemidophorus tigris mundus - Camp, 1916 - Univ. California Publ. Zool. Vol. 17, p. 71

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Aspidoscelis = "shield-leg" from the Ancient Greek aspido- ("shield") and skelos ("leg").

from Wickipedia

tigris
- Latin - of a tiger - refers to the dorsal pattern
munda - Latin - mundus neat, sharp or elegant

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Related or Similar California Lizards
San Diegan Tiger Whiptail - A. t. stejnegeri
Great Basin Whiptail - A. t. tigris
Belding's Orange-throated Whiptail - Aspidoscelis hyperythra beldingi
More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Turtles and Lizards of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Jones, Lawrence, Rob Lovich, editors. Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide. Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2009.

Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Lizards, Lizards of the United States and of Canada. Cornell University Press, 1946.

Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


This animal is not included on the Special Animals List, which indicates that there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California.



Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN


 

Home Site Map About Us Identification Lists Maps Photos More Lists CA Snakes CA Lizards CA Turtles CA Salamanders CA Frogs
Contact Us Usage Resources Rattlesnakes Sounds Videos FieldHerping Yard Herps Behavior Herp Fun CA Regulations
Beyond CA All Herps


Return to the Top

 © 2000 -