Prairie Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata viridis)
This speedster of a lizard has seven light-colored stripes (though some, especially the middorsal stripe, are not always obvious). The background coloration varies, but includes some portion that is dark brown or tan. Adult males are heavily awash in bright green, with lesser amounts of blues and yellows. They have a bluish-tinted belly and chin. Adult females and juveniles are less awash in bright coloration and have a tan belly and chin. Juveniles have a bluish-tinted tail. Dorsal scales are granular in texture, while ventral scales are large and rectangular. This species seems especially prone to chigger infestations and these will create orange patches on some individuals.
Two subspecies, the Prairie Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata viridis) and Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata sexlineata), intergrade in the state.
This species is also known as the Six-lined Racerunner, Whiptail, or Field Streak.
This is a species of drier, disturbed edge habitats that face the south or southwest. Eroded and exposed banks along highways, near railroad tracks, and old rock quarries all provide suitable habitat. Areas along a bank or hillside with loose soil (sand or red clay) provide a place for this species to burrow and nest; although loose, exposed rocks provide a suitable substitute.
This species is typically observed on warmer, sunny days after it has emerged from a shallow burrow. It spends significant time basking and when warmed up is quite a fast lizard!
Breeding begins in spring and continues into the summer. Females lay one or two clutches in excavated nests. Brooding of the eggs is not observed.
Insects and spiders comprise the bulk of the diet, though other prey of subduable size may also be taken. This species is a very active forager, moving along with quick, jerky movements as it samples with its tongue and looks about.
This species is leery and fast! Catching one by hand on a warm day is practically impossible. They can, however, be teased out of their activity burrows or uncovered by flipping rocks to gain the element of surprise. Obviously, their best defense is speed. Beyond that, the vertical stripes help disguise the direction of a fast-moving lizard and the tail is detachable (but requires more stress for detachment than in some other lizard species). They may attempt to bite if restrained.
This species currently holds no special status in the state.