Amphibians

Reptiles

Prairie Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata viridis)

Description

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.


Habitats

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.


Habits and Life History

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.


Prey and Hunting Techniques

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.


Temperament and Defense

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.


Conservation

This species currently holds no special status in the state.


State Distribution and Abundance

This species occurs statewide. Evidence of integration with the Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata sexlineata) occurs in southeastern Arkansas. In proper habitats, it is relatively common (though it appears less so in counties bordering the Mississippi River).

Gallery

Prairie Racerunner, Juvenile Prairie Racerunner (Male) Prairie Racerunner (Male) Prairie Racerunner (Male) Prairie Racerunner (Male) Prairie Racerunner (Male) Prairie Racerunner (Male) Prairie Racerunner (Male) Prairie Racerunner (Male) Six-lined Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Aspidoscelis sexlineata viridis. Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Belly Prairie Racerunner Belly Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner Prairie Racerunner

Contributors

  • kaptainkory January 07, 2007, at 09:51 PM (Original Contributor)

Bibliography

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979 (1987). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd ed. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 743 pp.
  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed., Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 616 pp.
  • Trauth, S. E., H. W. Robison, and M. V. Plummer. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 421 pp.

Discussion

  • An interesting little trick is that this species can be induced into a momentary sleepy stupor by flipping them on their back. ~ kaptainkory January 07, 2007, at 09:51 PM
  • The Dardanelle School District mascot is named for the Six-Lined Race Runner. We call it the Sand Lizard!

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Page last modified on January 21, 2012, at 08:29 PM