Sunday, June 1, 2014

Western Whiptails In The Yarden

Western Whiptail - Cnemidophorus tigris
Western Whiptail - Cnemidophorus tigris
We spotted two of these lizards while out photographing the yarden this morning.  It was very interesting to see this set of lizards.  They make rustling noises and creepily advanced in our direction by weaving back and forth across each other.

Western Whiptail Cnemidophorus tigris pair
Western Whiptail
Cnemidophorus tigris pai
We stayed still and allowed them to advance as they wanted... then they started acting a bit odd.  One started shimmying at the other.  Then sliding across and on top of the other.  They started circling around each other.  As it turns out, they were trying to hook up.  One appearing to be much more interested in the endeavor than the other.

Western Whiptail - Cnemidophorus tigris pair
Western Whiptail
Cnemidophorus tigris pair
There was a lot of the one climbing over the other, trying to make some kind of connection.  It appears one was finally successful in making the connection it so desired.  References to "one" and "it" are purposeful because identifying and reading about the habits of these particular lizards makes the situation and the genders involved ambiguous still.  It may or may not be what it appears to be, but the end result is still the same.
Western Whiptail - Cnemidophorus tigris pair
Western Whiptail
Cnemidophorus tigris pair

After reviewing the photos, we identified the markings; granular scaling along the back, rectangular, smooth scales along the belly and armored legs.  These two were probably 1 foot long and since they appear to be mating they should be approximately 23 months or older.  In this particular species 60% are asexual reproducers and females fake mating or acting aggressively towards other females which is supposed to trigger ovulation and egg laying.  The whiptails mate in spring (these two are a bit late to the party) and can lay 1 to 4 eggs this month or next month.

Western Whiptail Cnemidophorus tigris posturing
Western Whiptail
Cnemidophorus tigris posturing
Once dismounted, the aggressor continued posturing for some reason.  Eventually they both continued on their way as before, the aggressor following behind the submissive into the cucumber vines.  They probably started on their active foraging for insects, spiders, scorpions and possibly other smaller lizards.

We welcome the Western Whiptails here, including all their burrow holes in the yard.  Thanks to them, we have no troubles with crickets, scorpions or grasshoppers in our yarden.