Common Checkered Whiptail

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Common Checkered Whiptail
Aspidoscelis tesselata.jpeg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Family: Teiidae
Genus: Cnemidophorus
Species: C. tesselatus
Binomial name
Cnemidophorus tesselatus
Say, 1823

Ameiva tesselata
Say, 1823
Cnemidophorus grahamii
Baird & Girard, 1852
Aspidoscelis tesselata
Reeder, 2002

The Checkered Whiptail (Cnemidophorus tesselatus) is a species of lizard found in the southwestern United States in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico, and in northern Mexico in Chihuahua and Coahuila. Many sources believe that the species originated from the hybridization of the Marbled Whiptail, Cnemidophorus marmoratus, the Plateau Spotted Whiptail, Cnemidophorus septemvittatus, and possibly the Six-lined Racerunner, Cnemidophorus sexlineatus. It is one of many lizard species known to be parthenogenic. It is sometimes referred to as the Common Checkered Whiptail to differentiate it from several other species known as checkered whiptails.


The Checkered Whiptail grows to about 4 inches in length. Their pattern and base coloration varies widely, with brown or black blotching, checkering or striping on a pale yellow or white base color. Their rear legs often have dark spotting, and their underside is usually white with dark flecking on the throat area. They are slender bodied, with a long tail.


Like other species of whiptail lizard, the Checkered Whiptail is diurnal and insectivorous. They are wary, energetic, and fast moving, darting for cover if approached. They are found in semi-arid, rocky habitats, normally in canyon lands or hilled regions. They are parthenogenic, laying up to eight unfertilized eggs in mid summer, which hatch in six to eight weeks.