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Yes, that’s “Cnemie-philia” — the love of lizards in the genus Cnemidophorus, now more properly called by their current genus name, Aspidoscelis, or Whiptails.  Our locals are Sonoran tiger whiptails (Aspidoscelis tigris punctilinealis), and they’re the most commonly seen lizard in our Phoenix area yard.  They like it hot and are out and about during the the day, except in the highest heat, constantly looking for prey such as insects and ants, which they are welcome to, as our ants have out-sized painful defense methods.  (Yet I love the ants, because they feed the flickers and the whiptails).  The young whiptails have been more in evidence recently, too — tiny whippety slippets of things, sleek and fast with brilliant blue tails that largely void their stripey camouflage against granite gravel.  Maybe the flashy and detachable nearly-neon blue tail is an effective decoy for color-visioned predators, distracting them from more critical body parts.

(Various watercolors in Arches 140 lb coldpress sketchbook, A.Shock; click image to enlarge)

Here’s a watercolor study of a tiger whiptail who, sadly, fell victim to the LaBrea Tarpit of our pool.  I finally took it out of the freezer drawer of our fridge, much to E‘s relief, although there is still a Vaejovis scorpion chilling in there (this is when zip-lock bags really shine, I feel).  When I was through drawing, I took pictures and put the limp, thawed carcass out for a Curve-billed thrasher to find for a meal, but ashes to ashes: the ants found it first, bringing the lizard’s life full circle in a nutritional sense.


Lately I’ve been slacking off on supplying etymologies for things, but this one’s already been covered, at the very bottom of the Desert iguana post, along with a swell photo by E of a (Plateau?) tiger whiptail we saw at the Grand Canyon.

Posted by Allison on Aug 15th 2009 09:09 pm | 5 Comments
| View art/clay,close in,drawn in,etymology/words,natural history,reptiles and amphibians,yard list category

5 Responses to “Cnemie-philia”

  1. kate mckinnonon 15 Aug 2009 at 11:06 pm link comment

    Thanks for the mention of the Soul Clearing Sale, Allison! (Or the Soul Sale, as someone called it Thursday.) It’s been fun clearing out the Hoard; I can see how people get started and then just keep going, giving away their entire fortune, etc.

    How nice that your Comments are enabled now.

  2. […] previous posts, I’ve mentioned the unfortunate similarity of our swimming pool to the LaBrea Tarpits.  Especially in the summer months when there are lots of inexperienced young […]

  3. […] still enough for long enough that we were able to get some photos.  I suspect it was after young Tiger whiptails, among other things, as they’re still out and about (the adults seem already to have […]

  4. […] of the pool and I held on my palm while he snapped its portrait in the rosy light of sunset, and a Sonoran Tiger Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris punctilinealis) which I’d rescued out of the pool earlier but […]

  5. […] is another pool victim in a post from 2009, drawn fresh from a ziplock in the freezer. The older post also mentions that at the time there […]

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