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Diploid Checkered Whiptail

(Cnemidophorus tesselatus) Special Concern

Diploid Checkered Whiptail, Walker et al. 1997.jpg (22899 bytes)  Diploid Checkered Whiptail 2, Walker et al. 1997.jpg (22996 bytes) Photos used with permission of the editorial office of The Herpetologists' League

Identification: Body and tail long and slender; upper side with small granular scales; belly with larger rectangular scales; scales along front edge of fold of skin across throat conspicuously enlarged.  

Difficult to distinguish from Triploid Checkered Whiptail. Pale stripes bordering midline of back gray-tan to tan or gold, irregular in outline, interrupted, and/or fused with bars; stripe along middle of back gray-tan to tan (or absent), single and irregular, or doubled or partly doubled; lowermost stripe on side of body gray, irregular, and/or interrupted and fused with spots and/or bars (these stripes may be partly or entirely lost in older individuals); area between two uppermost pale stripes (not counting the stripe along the middle of the back) on each side of upper side with pale spots, either fused lengthwise into a line or transversely expanded into bars; upper surface of thighs with profuse pale spotting and some spots fused; maximum snout-vent length about 10.6 cm (4.2 inches).


Colorado Distribution: Scattered locations in southeastern Colorado. Some populations have declined or been extirpated as a result of habitat destruction, and other populations appear to be less abundant than they were in previous years. 

View the distribution of observed Diploid Checkered Whiptail (Cnemidophorus tesselatus) on a map

Habitat: Bottoms, slopes, and escarpments of rocky canyons, often where grassland or grassy-weedy associations meet open juniper woodland. This ground-dwelling species hides in burrows or in spaces under rocks; it may dig its own burrows.   

Life History: This is an all-female species that arose through hybridization between other whiptail species. Adults produce 1-2 clutches of eggs between late May and early July. The earliest hatchlings emerge in August.    

Note: The scientific name of this lizard was recently changed to Aspidoscelis tesselata. This is also known as the Common Checkered Whiptail.

Revised: Jan 15, 2004