Wishing for Whiptail

Coastal Whiptail, selective color


The Coastal Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris stejnegeri) is a real favorite of mine and a lizard species that I never really got to see regularly until we moved to the canyon. They prefer hot and arid habitat with relatively sparse vegetation, which describes much of the habitat around here. These guys are proficient diggers when foraging for invertebrate prey and they are super speedy when they want to be. (There’s a cool video about half-way down this page on California Herps.com if you want to get some idea of how fast they are.) Definitely not an easy lizard to catch, but I have found that with a slow and steady approach it is possible to observe them closely. Usually I start seeing them towards the end of May and then continuing through September or October. (Note: This may not be indicative of their actual seasonal activity, it’s just what I have noticed from my daily sightings over the last several years.)

I love this photo of a pair I was hanging out with one July afternoon a few years ago. They took a break from their courtship activities to rest awhile in the shade. Here you can see how wonderfully camouflaged they are:


Coastal Whiptail pair


The juvenile lizards are much more colorful than the adults. How awesome is that blue tail?!


Coastal Whiptail, juvenile


So, aside from wanting to share this great reptile with you all, I guess I’m kind of hoping this post will serve as a conjuring trick of sorts. You see, I haven’t actually seen one since last year and I haven’t had the chance to photograph one since May of 2009. I’m fairly certain this lizard’s population is relatively stable in this area, so I’m not worried that they’re not out there… it’s just that I’d love the opportunity to spend some more time in the field with them. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for me and maybe I’ll have a few more recent pics to share soon!

Harsi / June 3, 2011 / artwork, reptiles


  1. Lisa - June 5, 2011 @ 7:56 am

    Thanks for these photos — love them. Good luck with getting a chance to photograph them again sometime soon!! xoxo

  2. Harsi - June 5, 2011 @ 8:00 am

    Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday, Lisa! I missed you when I was at Ro’s sale yesterday. We talked about you frequently though and I felt you were at least there in spirit. Glad you liked the whiptail pics. Though I try to be somewhat scientific in my approach to wildlife, I confess that I still have my own little irrational rituals and I truly am hoping that this post will somehow cause them to materialize next time I go out. *grin*


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