Western whiptail

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Western whiptail
Cnemidophorus tigris multiscutatus.jpg
A. t. multiscutatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Family: Teiidae
Genus: Aspidoscelis
Species: tigris
Binomial name
Aspidoscelis tigris
Reed et al., 2002

The western whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris [Baird and Girard, 1852]) is a small lizard (adults average 25 to 35 cm - about a foot - in length) that ranges throughout most of the southwestern United States. Most of its populations appear stable, and is not listed as endangered in any of the states comprising its range. It lives in a wide variety of habitats, including deserts and semiarid shrubland, usually in areas with sparse vegetation; also woodland, open dry forest, and riparian growth. It lives in burrows. Major differences between this species and the Checkered Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tesselata) include the lack of enlarged scales anterior to the gular fold and the presence of enlarged antebatrachial scales. It was previously known under Cnemidophorus tigris, until phylogenetic analyses concluded that the genus Cnemidophorus was polyphyletic. Since it does not migrate, a number of forms have developed in different regions, several of which have been given sub-specific names - for example the California Whiptail, Aspidoscelis tigris munda.

An excellent, well-documented site for information on this and other American species is http://www.natureserve.org. The specific home page for the species is http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Cnemidophorus+tigris .