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Goldteju Tupinambis teguixin.jpg
Tupinambis teguixin
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Scleroglossa
Infraorder: Scincomorpha
Family: Teiidae
Gray, 1827

10, See text.

Teiidae is a family of lizards native to the Americas. Members of this family are generally known as whiptails, though the tegus also belong to this family. The group includes the parthenogenic genera Cnemidophorus and Aspidoscelis, and the non-parthenogenic Tupinambis. It has over 230 member species in ten genera.[1] About 75% of the species are in two dominant genera, Aspidoscelis and Cnemidophorus.[citation needed]


Teiids can be distinguished from other lizards by the following characteristics: they have large rectangular scales that form distinct transverse rows ventrally and generally small granular scales dorsally,[2] they have head scales that are separate from the skull bones, and the teiid teeth are solid at the base and "glued" to the jaw bones. Additionally, all teiids have a forked, snake-like tongue. They all possess well-developed limbs.

Teiids are all terrestrial and diurnal, and are primarily carnivorous or insectivorous, although some will include a small amount of plant matter in their diet. They all lay eggs, with some species laying very large clutches.[2]


Certain species of whiptail lizards have all-female or nearly all-female populations.[3] These lizards reproduce by parthenogenesis, and research has shown that simulated mating behavior increases fertility. For instance, one female lies on top of another, engaging in pseudocopulation. However, this claim has been disputed, as Collins and Pinch relate.[4] When they lay eggs, the lizard that was on bottom has larger eggs while the one on top has smaller. The lizards switch off this role each mating season.[5]


  • Genus Ameiva – jungle-runners (about 30 species)
  • Genus Aspidoscelis (about 50 species, separated from Cnemidophorus genus)
  • Genus Callopistes – false monitors (2 species)
  • Genus Cnemidophorus – whiptail lizards (about 60 species)
  • Genus Crocodilurus – Crocodile Tegu (1 species)
  • Genus Dicrodon – desert tegus (3 species)
  • Genus Dracaena – Caiman lizards (2 species)
  • Genus Kentropyx – (9 species)
  • Genus Teius – (3 species)
  • Genus Tupinambis – tegus (7 species)


  1. ^ eol.org
  2. ^ a b Bauer, Aaron M. (1998). Cogger, H.G.; Zweifel, R.G., eds. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 170–171. ISBN 0-12-178560-2. 
  3. ^ AAASAll-Female Species of the Lizard Genus Cnemidophorus, Teiidae
  4. ^ Collins, H. M. & Pinch, T. J. (1993). The Golem: What You Should Know about Science. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, pp. 109-119.
  5. ^ Nerve.com – The Science of Sex. Simon LeVay, Ph.D.
  • Pianka, E. R. and L. J. Vitt. 2003 Lizards: Windows to the evolution of diversity. University of California Press. Berkeley.

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