Whiptail Wishes Granted!

As you may recall, last week I was wondering where all of the Coastal Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris stejnegeri) were and hoping that my blog post might serve as a lizard “rain dance” of sorts and bring some my way. Well, I still haven’t seen any here in the canyon, but I did get my wish…


Coastal Whiptail, on the move


I had the pleasure of accompanying some of my out-of-town relatives on an afternoon walk at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden today. This lovely botanical garden is entirely focused on the native plants of California and is a wonderful destination for any nature lover. We actually saw several (at least 3 or 4) whiptail, which is far more than I can ever recall seeing at the garden before. Mostly we saw them scurrying off the side of the main path, busily foraging in the leaf litter. But, the spectacular lizard pictured here was coming right down the path towards us. Everyone stopped and stood very still — possibly due to my bossy instructions for everyone to stay put and please let me try and get a few photos before it hurried off. Apparently I needn’t have worried, because as if on cue, the lizard stopped directly in front of us and then pressed its belly down on the warm earth and calmly rested for a minute or so. More than enough time for us all to get a good look and for me to get a few nice images!


Coastal Whiptail, posing


As always, you can click on the above pictures to see a larger image, but I thought it was worth showcasing a few details that I thought were super cool…


Coastal Whiptail, front clawsWould you look at the length of the claws on the front feet!!!
Did I mention that these guys are very good diggers?

Coastal Whiptail, back clawsOf course, that’s nothing compared to the length of the back claws!!!


Coastal Whiptail, pregnant?Perhaps this lizard just ate a large meal, but looking at the photos I took, I couldn’t help but wonder if this might be a pregnant female? The abdomen seems awfully plump and the bulges on the sides look a little lumpy and… hmmmm… egg-like? According to CaliforniaHerps.com, eggs are typically laid between the months of April and August, so it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.

Harsi / June 13, 2011 / reptiles


  1. Chris - June 14, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

    Glad you got your wish Harsi! And just ten days after your whiptail blog too. I’ve been wishing to find certain critters for years now to no avail, maybe the secret is to put the wish into blog form in order for it to come true? Hahaha. It sure looks to me like you may very well have a pregnant female here…nice find! I am wondering though, what may be the purpose of that insanely long toe on the back claws? It almost looks too long to be useful (kind of like the mandables on male dobsonflies). ps: beautiful image on yesterday’s post. Great colors.

  2. Harsi - June 14, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

    Ha ha ha! Hi, Chris. I suppose my little rituals are pretty silly. I don’t really know if they work reliably or not either… though, sometimes it does feel that way. I’m also a big fan before heading out into the field of pronouncing confidently that I know I definitely WONT be seeing some species or other. Then… I wait for the universe to prove me wrong. Hah! I suppose that’s a sort of combative way to view the universe… But, yes, I also do sort of believe that you focus your thoughts (and in this case — photos and words) on a singular subject it can (at least) sharpen your awareness of that creature, if not actually WILL them to appear. So weird… I was wondering the exact same thing about that really long toe. I’m not sure what the deal is… let me do some reading and think about it. Next Whiptail post, I’ll try and provide some plausible info. Thank you for complimenting my photo art, Chris. It means a lot to me.


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