Orangethroated Whiptail Lizard

Orangethroated Whiptail Lizard, Aspidoscelis hyperythra

The Orangethroated Whiptail Lizard, Aspidoscelis hyperythra, is a small lizard and a member of the Teiidae Family of Whiptails and Racerunners which are known in Mexico as güicos. It is known locally as huico garganta anaranjada. The species is easy to identify as it is the only lizard in Mexico with an orange throat (which turns brighter orange in breeding season). They have a slim body, long slender tail, thin snout, and large symmetrical head plates. The back is unspotted and black, dark brown or grayish with six or fewer pale yellow or whitish stripes running the length of the body. The belly is pale blue-gray or whitish with large, smooth, rectangular scales. The scales on the back are small and granular and the scales on the tail are keeled. The tail in juveniles is blue which fades to gray in adults. They reach a maximum size of 7.5 cm (3 inches) from the snout to the vent and 15 cm (6 inches) in total length. The Orangethroated Whiptail Lizard is diurnal being very active during normal daylight hours, but wary. They reside in semi-arid bushy areas within loose soil and rocks including washes, stream sides, rocky hillsides and coastal chaparral. They move with abrupt stops and starts and have frequent side-to-side head movement and tongue flicking. They are difficult to approach, typically foraging near cover, and are capable of a quick burst of speed to retreat into heavy brush and holes. Males defend their territories with a threat display of back arching, tail twitching, and snout pointing at the ground. They consume small invertebrates, especially spiders, scorpions, centipedes, termites and other small lizards. In Mexico their range is limited to the Baja Peninsula from sea level to 2,000 feet. From a conservation perspective the Orangethroated Whiptail Lizard is current considered of Least Concern; however, its range has diminished by 75% recently due to habitat loss caused by human developments. Note: this species was historically known scientifically as Cnemidophorus hyperythrus which is still used in most existing literature references.

Orangethroated Whiptail Lizard, Aspidoscelis hyperythra. Collected in the greater Los Cabos area of Baja California Sur, March 2012. Total length: 10 cm (3.9 inches).