Sixlined racerunner

Cnemidophorus sexlineatus

SUBFAMILY

Teiinae

TAXONOMY

Cnemidophorus sexlineatus Linneaus, 1766. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Cnemidophore a six raies; German: Sechsstreifen-Rennechsen.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Adults average 2.1-2.9 in (55-75 mm) in snout-to-vent length, with a maximum size of 3.3 in (85 mm). Females are slightly larger than males. Individuals are striped without spots, with seven longitudinal light stripes on the greenish brown to black ground color. The head, neck, and anterior part of the body are bright yellowish green. The tail is bright blue in hatchlings and fades to brown in adults.

DISTRIBUTION

Eastern North America in the United States from Chesapeake Bay south to Key West, west to southern South Dakota, south to eastern New Mexico.

HABITAT

This species occurs in xeric habitats that are relatively open with patchy vegetation and well-drained soil.

BEHAVIOR

These teiids overwinter in burrows that they excavate themselves or that were made by other animals. They emerge in April over most of their range, and activity peaks in midsummer. Palmer and Braswell (1995) reported that in North Carolina they are the "last lizards to become active in the spring and the first to enter hibernation in the fall." Hatch-lings appear in late summer, by which time adults are not nearly as active. Six-lined racerunners, like other teiids, are he-liothermic lizards that prefer relatively high body temperatures. They are active on hot sunny days. Mark Paulissen (1988) studied foraging ecology, activity, and temperature selection by these lizards and reported a mean body temperature of 98.2-98.8°F (36.8-37.1°C). While active, six-lined racerunnners thermoregulate by shuttling between sun and shade. They hide under rocks, logs, trash piles, or any suitable object that gives them safe refuge. Six-lined racerunners use speed as their defense.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

These are active foraging lizards that feed opportunistically on insects and other arthropods, often digging up hidden prey. Dietary studies document feeding on grasshoppers, spiders, butterflies, moths, land snails, beetles, beetle larvae, and ants.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Females reach maturity in their second season and lay one to six eggs in a clutch depending on their body size and reproductive frequency. Nesting takes place in spring and summer, and hatchlings appear by mid July. Hatchlings are 1.2-1.8 in (31-45 mm) snout-to-vent length.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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