Cape Giant Whiptails

Cape Giant Whiptails (Aspidoscelis maximus) are beautiful, interesting and appropriately-named lizards inhabiting much of the Baja Cape Region, including parts of La Ventana and El Sargento. In some areas, these lizards are very common, such as San Antonio and other towns in the mountains. They are prolific in habitats such as rocky plains, desert-y shrub forests, and even in developed areas such as towns.

Here in El Sargento, these whiptails seem to be much more secretive and rare. I have seen one north of town on the Punta Gorda trail, and a few in the hills above La Ventana. They are Very Fast and skittish, and can be difficult to see. They eat invertebrates, and can be seen foraging through the leaf litter in search of bugs and spiders.

Cape Giant Whiptails act quite similarly to their cousins, the ever-present Orange-Throated Whiptails. However, including the tail, giant whiptails can achieve lengths of over a foot! Orange-Throated Whiptails are much smaller, growing only to about 6 inches.

Whiptails are extraordinarily beautiful lizards, and can do well in urban areas, so long as there is one thing: ground cover. They spend most of their time foraging in leaf litter and looking for bugs. 

If we want to help these adorable little pest controllers, we need to leave parts of our properties un-raked and wild. I have seen many places around here with intermittent bushes and cacti left to grow, but vigorously raked, so there is not a leaf lying on the ground. Although this is better than no plants, for many local reptiles, ground cover is crucial. If you do have ground cover around your house, you will likely get rewarded by being able to watch various lizard species scurrying around and enjoying the morning.