Desert Grassland Whiptail Lizard

Desert Grassland Whiptail Lizard

Aspidoscelis uniparens
Population size
4 g
7-13 cm

The Desert grassland whiptail lizard is an all-female species of reptiles in North America. They are very long and slim, with a thin tail that is longer than their body length. Their distinct identifying feature are the six yellowish lines that run the length of their body. The majority of the whiptail's body tends to be olive or brown color that fades to a faint blue or gray on their tail. Comparatively, an adolescent's tail is a very bright and vibrant blue. Their bodies are lined with small coarse scales, which gradually get larger as they approach the tail. The scales on their bellies are much larger in size and are much smoother as well.


Desert grassland whiptails are mostly found in the deserts of southern to central Arizona and along the Rio Grande river in New Mexico. They are also found in the deserts of northern Mexico. These lizards prefer to live in low valleys, grasslands, and slight slopes.



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Desert grassland whiptails are solitary diurnal lizards. Most of their days are usually spent foraging and basking in the sun. At night whiptails retreat in their burrows. To perceive their environment these lizards use their vision, hearing, and tactile senses. They also use pheromones to communicate with each other during the breeding season.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Desert grassland whiptails are carnivores (insectivores) that dig for termites, Queen ants, beetles, and other insects. A smaller portion of their diet includes prey found above the ground such as grasshoppers and butterflies.

Mating Habits

2 months
at birth
2-4 eggs

All Desert grassland whiptails are female and their reproduction process does not need male fertilization. These lizards reproduce by parthenogenesis, but offspring are not necessarily clones of their mother. Under normal reproductive processes, a species has each chromosome pair separated, copied, and paired back with its counterpart. The Desert grassland whiptails, however, has chromosome triplets where each triplet is paired with its copy rather than its counterparts. This reproductive method enables the asexual desert grassland whiptail lizard to have a genetic diversity previously thought to have been unique to sexually reproductive species. During the breeding season, each female lays 2-3 clutches which contain between 2 and 4 eggs each. Incubation takes about 2 months. The young hatch fully developed and don't require parental care.


Population threats

There are no major threats to this species at present.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Desert grassland whiptail lizard total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.


1. Desert Grassland Whiptail Lizard on Wikipedia -
2. Desert Grassland Whiptail Lizard on The IUCN Red List site -

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About