These long lizards can grow to be about 13 inches long and have long, skinny tails that resemble whips, hence the name “whiptail.” They tend to be a light color, almost matching the ground, and they have numerous colored spots that vary from light tan to dark from the base of their heads to their tails. In many of these lizards, the spots become a darker color at the end of their tails. Many lizards are “sit and wait” predators, meaning that they sit on rocks, blending in to their surroundings until prey is nearby. The Western Whiptail does not sit and wait; it actively searches for its prey. If you see them in the wild, they are often foraging on the ground, constantly poking and digging the soil as they move.
These sleek lizards prefer desert to grassland areas and live from Oregon to Idaho, Baja California and northern Mexico, and from California east to Colorado and Texas. They live in areas where they have access to burrows, which usually have sand or other somewhat loose soil.
Western whiptails love to eat insects, spiders, scorpions, and lizards, and they will sometimes eat crickets, grasshoppers and beetles.
Like many lizards, Western whiptails use their long, whip-like tails as a “get-away tool” from predators. When grabbed, the lizards can detach their tails and run away, leaving the predator with just a bit of tail instead of an entire meal.