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Tegus Whiptail Lizards and Relatives: Teiidae

Behavior And Reproduction

The majority of these species spend their nights in burrows, then crawl out on sunny mornings to bask. Once they are warm, they begin running here and there looking for things to eat. When they get too hot, they find some shade, and when they start to get cold, they soak up the rays in a sunny spot. Often, many individuals will live in the same area, and they usually get along very well. When breeding season starts, however, the males will fight over the females.


Some species, like the lizard known as the desert grassland whiptail, are all females. Scientists believe that these whiptail lizards actually came about when two different species mated and had young, called hybrids (HIGH-brihds). The hybrids formed a new species of only females. In other species, a female and male must mate to produce young, but in all-female species, the female can produce young by herself. This is called parthenogenesis (PAR-thih-no-JEH-neh-sis). The mother's babies are all identical copies, or clones, of herself. Besides the whiptail family of lizards, seven other families of lizards and snakes have some all-female species.

All of the females lay eggs, rather than giving birth to babies. Some species lay only one or two eggs, while others lay thirty or more. The largest species have the most eggs, and the smallest species, the least. In addition, the larger older females usually lay more eggs than smaller younger females of the same species. For instance, a female six-lined racerunner may lay only one or two eggs her first year but three or four her second year. Most females lay their eggs in underground burrows, rotting logs, leaf piles, or some other slightly moist place. Some species drag leaves and other plant bits into their burrows and build nests for the eggs. The females stay with their eggs until they hatch.

Some species in this family are all female—they have no males and do not need them to have babies. The females give birth to young that are clones, which are perfect copies, of themselves.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesTegus Whiptail Lizards and Relatives: Teiidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Six-lined Racerunner (cnemidophorus Sexlineatus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, TEGUS WHIPTAIL LIZARDS THEIR RE