Monday, June 15, 2009

A javelina and two reptiles

This javelina, properly Collared Peccary, Tayassu tajacu, was wandering around near the entrance to the Washington Ranch, a short distance west of Carlsbad Caverns National Park headquarters. Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

Ant nests of the harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex spp.) are quite common around here. There is generally a large cleared circle two or three feet in diameter around the hole. There is one in my yard, very close to where I park the car, and a number of people have suggested that I poison them out. However, if I did that, I would never get to see this extremely attractive reptile (Phrynosoma cornutum, the Texas Horned Lizard), which specializes in feeding on ants. The genus name means “toad-bodied”.

All summer long in Socorro you can find whiptail lizards. This beautiful specimen was photographed on the north ramp of Speare Hall on the NM Tech campus where I work. The snout-vent length is about five inches, the glorious tail much longer. Identification of the several species of whiptails in this area is subtle, but I believe this is a Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail, Cnemidophorus exsanguis.


TortoiseGeek said...

And based on my trusty handbook, "Reptiles and Amphibians of New Mexico," I'd agree with both IDs.

Excellent photos, BTW.

Tony Perreault said...

So those are the ants in my yard - I was wondering what type they were, other than being large and relatively harmless (ie, not apt to bite).

I haven't seen a horned toad in years - not since I lived on Mt. Carmel - guess the area where I live is too wet for them, but not whiptail lizards, roadrunners, and spade-foot toads. Nice photos, btw.