The Chihuahuan Desert is home to some spectacular creatures: giant bugs, expert survivalist mammals, and hearty birds to name a few, but there’s one very common critter that shatters expectations: the whiptail lizard! New Mexican whiptails can be spotted or striped. Both striped and spotted varieties fall into the Aspidoscelis neomexicana
genus which has the unbelievable characteristic of being able to reproduce asexually. Yep, that means that this New Mexico creature doesn’t have both males and females in the species. Whiptails are all females and fertilize their own eggs. When you’re out in the backyard or on the trail hunting those quick moving reptiles (whose tails are apt to fall off in defense when you grab hold of them) are lady lizards. Give the whiptail lizards that you find names like Nita, Gabriella, and Brittney. You won’t need to call them by the monikers George or Harry.
These lizards are so unique to our region that the City of Carlsbad chose to emblazon one on a large planter box at the entrance of the Beach. The larger-than-life representation of this lizard celebrates the biodiversity of the Chihuahuan Desert and serves as a fun reminder of what those small, darting figures are that run across your path here in Southeast New Mexico.