Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

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Kelly Mc
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Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 25th, 2015, 12:15 am

Hi Everyone..This is a request for photos of lizards including geckos, in the act of eating. All and any species, and of course any commentary on the shot and details welcomed.

Thanks in advance for any photos!


- Kel

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krismunk
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by krismunk » August 25th, 2015, 2:42 am

Acanthodactylus aegyptius from Israel with a beetle this year in May.

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Marbled whiptail from Big Bend last October with pupa.

Image

I should have a few more of dubious photographic quality (viviparous lizard w/ caterpillar, moorish gecko w/ roach, Phoenicolacerta kulzeri w/ centipede + perhaps a few I'm forgetting). I'll have to do a little digging to find them, though.

The one I would have liked to get was the chameleon snatching a fly but alas, I was too slow.

EDIT: Did a quick search, couldn't find any of the others. Come to think of it I'm not sure I actually got a shot of the lizard with the pede & the two others were crap anyway. I guess they were lost along with everything else I hadn't bothered to back up when my hard disk crashed last winter :-(

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by chrish » August 25th, 2015, 8:51 pm

I had a young Leopard Lizard (Gambelia) that I caught somewhere and kept as a pet (I don't know why, I just did). He lived in a big 75 gallon terrarium in our living room. I kept him for a few years, feeding him crickets and cockroaches.

One afternoon I spotted a Prairie Lizard (Sceloporus consobrinus) in the backyard and I thought "hmm, I need a better photo of one of those. I'll grab it and set up a studio type shot inside where I can control it." While I was setting up the studio, I tossed the Sceloporus into the Gambelia's cage for a few minutes without a second thought.

It took about 2.3 seconds for the Gambelia to notice it and this happened -

Image

I guess I did get an interesting Prairie Lizard shot, but not what I was expecting?

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 26th, 2015, 12:55 am

Thanks for the input and so far its clear that the lizards presented have targeted and dispatched substantially larger prey items than the canonized recommendation of captive feeding practices - ie; sizing between the span of eye to eye.

This is another example so far of how herp photography of wild specimens can support more relevancy in Herpetoculture.

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krismunk
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by krismunk » August 26th, 2015, 3:49 am

Kelly Mc wrote:Thanks for the input and so far its clear that the lizards presented have targeted and dispatched substantially larger prey items than the canonized recommendation of captive feeding practices - ie; sizing between the span of eye to eye.

This is another example so far of how herp photography of wild specimens can support more relevancy in Herpetoculture.
...and anecdotal evidence supports this further. In a couple of the other instances I mentioned, the cockroach by my recollection I would estimate at 1/3 the mass of the gecko, and the centipede was at least svl of the lizard. The centipede was let go (in poor state) after it got in a bite, though.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 26th, 2015, 12:08 pm

Ow yeah I would let go too.. :o

The pupae eating another illustration that challenges the need for prey to be moving to be perceived. Though I have seen a brief and mysterious wiggle by pupae when touched or perhaps overheated. And in breaking transition there would surely be, but again was there here?

What I have seen is that lizards/geckos can and do perceive motionless prey - once initial cue of food item is visualized, or in some cases, tasted or smelled. Initial attention observed, broader than Continuous Motion has included previous eating experience of food item, shape, and a focusing of attention to the item - a nudge or drop to the ground. Much like the landing of an insect or sudden emergence from cover. But continued motion has shown itself to not be as crucial to prey identification.

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Tom » August 26th, 2015, 12:39 pm

Kelly Mc wrote:Thanks for the input and so far its clear that the lizards presented have targeted and dispatched substantially larger prey items than the canonized recommendation of captive feeding practices - ie; sizing between the span of eye to eye.

This is another example so far of how herp photography of wild specimens can support more relevancy in Herpetoculture.
One thing to bear in mind is that these are the times that we observe the lizards feeding (i.e. running around with a huge food item in their mouth) - there is likely a strong bias at play.

When they feed on 'normal' size prey, they eat it with ease, less conspicuously, and very rapidly - so less observations and photographs (I've seen many anolis and geckos feed on much smaller prey than is recommended too - but no photos since they're swallowed down before you get a chance to record it). So while I don't doubt that large food items are eaten in the wild and that this is generally no danger to the lizard, it is wrong to think that this is the normal state of things. In reality, wild animals try to eat anything they can. In captivity, we generally buy one size of food item, so the between the eye rule is actually a pretty sensible middle ground (if not as strict a rule as some would make out).

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by simus343 » August 26th, 2015, 1:20 pm

I find all predatory herps to be opportunistic feeders. All of them from snakes to frogs and everything else.

All the evidence I would need that lizards (and frogs) use smell and taste as much as vision is the consumption of dog food by american toads or dehydrated meal worms by Mediterranean geckos. So, I fully agree, Kelly, that lizards can tackle prey far beyond normal size without motion input.

I have witnessed 6 lined racerunners eating dragonflies bigger than they are. They behave like a varanid and eat the prey in pieces.

I belive the eye to eye rule is designed to alleviate beginner keeper concern of impaction. I know when I first learned of impactions and what they do I was driven insanely paranoid haha :P. Now, not so much because I know more about what causes them and how to avoid them.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 26th, 2015, 1:29 pm

Tom wrote:
Kelly Mc wrote:Thanks for the input and so far its clear that the lizards presented have targeted and dispatched substantially larger prey items than the canonized recommendation of captive feeding practices - ie; sizing between the span of eye to eye.

This is another example so far of how herp photography of wild specimens can support more relevancy in Herpetoculture.
One thing to bear in mind is that these are the times that we observe the lizards feeding (i.e. running around with a huge food item in their mouth) - there is likely a strong bias at play.

When they feed on 'normal' size prey, they eat it with ease, less conspicuously, and very rapidly - so less observations and photographs (I've seen many anolis and geckos feed on much smaller prey than is recommended too - but no photos since they're swallowed down before you get a chance to record it). So while I don't doubt that large food items are eaten in the wild and that this is generally no danger to the lizard, it is wrong to think that this is the normal state of things. In reality, wild animals try to eat anything they can. In captivity, we generally buy one size of food item, so the between the eye rule is actually a pretty sensible middle ground (if not as strict a rule as some would make out).

Perhaps I wasn't clear - that the lizards targeted what we think is large prey for them, wasn't meant in an either/or context. Of course they feed on smaller insects - the biodiversity of insects in any biome is vast - and with different sizes and shapes, ie, large winged or hard shelled or soft viscous larvae - different methods of seizing and dispatching are used.

My point is - that larger food items are Normal Also - for most. Of course there are specialist ant zappers etc.

But the precautionary tone of Stay Between The Eyes! Doesn't fall into line with the Capacities of most lizards and has actually led to many underfed and substrate ingesting incidents - as the assumed reasoning is that Like Us - lizards need to be offered bite sized foods.

The origin I believe with Eye To Eye came with the emergence of the bearded dragon hobby, and neos being fed large well chitinized crickets - as a variety of cricket sizes at that time wasn't as readily available at that time.

And yes I fully agree that there are not as many cultured food choices as would be desirable.

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Noah M » August 26th, 2015, 1:43 pm

I must have missed something. All I got was the Kelly eats lizards no bigger than an eye :crazyeyes:

I've observed geckos eating insects and small moths on the walls around Florida. Many prey items are squishy and don't have a rigid shape (i.e. moth wings can be folded, crushed, etc). It generally seems to be that if the gecko can fit the prey item into its mouth, then it is fair game. And occasionally, some things can fit, but need some manipulation first, and thus take longer to swallow. It would be like trying to eat long french fries without using your hands.

In terms of captive husbandry, I don't keep lizards. But certainly the rule of thumb for prey sizes and snakes is a conservative, safe estimate compared to what they face in the wild.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 26th, 2015, 1:52 pm

Please no commercial substrate impaction discussions here - a topic for the Herpetoculture Forum - I don't want to get blamed for starting one here.

I did see a photo of a fossil saurian form that swallowed a stick which was determined cause of its demise.

Accidents happen - in closed system and in the wild. Some factors differ greatly, and some share a common intrinsic.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 26th, 2015, 1:57 pm

Captain Jack you're funny.

Na sir I don't think I would :D


It would be cool to see more photos though. Mentioned were ant/termite guys but that would require video for fullest appreciation of their nano ninja abilities :)

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 26th, 2015, 2:52 pm

As a note just to alleviate any suspicion of bias or lack of objectivity on the subject - I have a group of Gallotia lizards which present fairly typically for omnivorous lacertids, however even the biggest, burlyest male will try to break apart larger pieces of food before swallowing - be it fruit chunks or adult dubia roaches. While the smaller females leave the larger dubia in the feeding station if presented with a disparity of sizes. Its interesting because they are no more narrow mouthed than the species shown above - but discard larger prey or attempt to modify it into a more manageable form.

But because they are captive born and in captivity I have to take that in as a factor of the behavior being less meaningful, than I would if I saw them feed this way in the wild, even if personally I suspect wild specimens do the same.

The Normal State of Things is why asked for photos of various lizards eating here, instead of the herpetoculture forum.

I would consider what a wild lizard in its habitat does, as being normal, at least in these cases of feeding.

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Carl Brune » August 26th, 2015, 6:42 pm

Image
Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea), as found eating a caterpillar in Tulare County, CA.

Image
going, going,...

Image
gone.

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krismunk
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by krismunk » August 27th, 2015, 12:23 am

Kelly Mc wrote:Ow yeah I would let go too.. :o
As I recall it, the lizard seemed a bit stunned for a couple of seconds, then apparently shook it off and when on with its business looking no worse for wear but without reapproaching the injured centipede.

Witnessing predation and predation attempts in the wild is always fascinating.

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by chris_mcmartin » August 27th, 2015, 3:19 am

I agree with the "prey item no bigger than the distance between the eyes" rule as being a little too conservative. That being said, because we keeper like to see our charges generally survive longer than they might in the wild, we don't tend to do anything that would jeopardize that goal. In other words, we don't know if those herps we observe in nature eating amazingly-huge prey items later had significant problems from those feats which led to their demise.

I saw a Sceloporus in Big Bend National Park in 1996 with a grasshopper (very chitinous) as long as its own snout-vent length. I was very impressed, but did not follow the animal to see if it managed to get it down. Maybe it did, maybe it gave up.

Unrelated but interesting feeding behavior: When I lived in San Antonio a little over 10 years ago, I had an above-ground pool with a wooden deck, which made for great habitat for wasps to build their paper nests. I removed one of the nests and placed it on the deck. Later, I observed a Green Anole approach the nest, grab it in its mouth and shake it like a bulldog, and then eat the wasp larvae which were shaken loose. I'm not sure how it knew to do this, and I'm kicking myself for not better documenting the activity.

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by simus343 » August 27th, 2015, 5:35 am

Kelly, you said your males would take the large dubia roaches but the females wouldn't if offered with smaller options?

I don't know much about Gallotia lizard natural history, but do the males fight for dominance in territory and for females like with various other lizard species such as varanids, beardies, or anoles? If so, a note about your Gallotias could be that the males are naturally more aggressive when survival-based scenarios are concerned such as utilization of resources (territory and food) and mating.

This being said, has anyone ever captured and sexed the wild lizards observed to be eating large prey? There is a chance that they might all be males tackling large prey because they are naturally inclined to be more bold, while the females will spend more time looking for easier prey items? Just a thought based on Kelly's captive observation. Similarly, in captivity, I have noted my male Heterodon platirhinos has a far more acute feeding response than my female of the same size and feeding regimen. So again, could there be something to the gender of the animal and what it is willing to attempt to tackle in the wild?

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by shanicy » August 27th, 2015, 8:42 am

A brown anole having for lunch a transparent butterfly
Taken in southern Belize

ImageBrown Anole: During lunch by Shani Cohen, on Flickr

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by SurfinHerp » August 27th, 2015, 9:53 am

Poor photo of a captive adult male leopard lizard eating an adult fence lizard

Image

The leopard lizard held on for over 20 minutes before swallowing the fence lizard. If I remember correctly, he digested the lizard in only 3 or 4 days! I was hoping it would last him a week or two.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 27th, 2015, 3:18 pm

Great feeding pics everyone,, love the anole, always love seeing those little sprites.

Simus the other second biggest male does that too, but not the smallest. He grabs and goes like the girls do, while the bigger guys stay out in the open. So they spend more time mulling in the food. They are all separate.

But they choose smaller items (comparatively) or attempt to break food pretty consistently and I wonder if they might have some anatomical difference. They have vocal capacity so it makes me wonder about that,, re their chord & throat morphology, but again it could have no relevance.

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Chaitanya » August 28th, 2015, 7:47 pm

Here is one more a yellow bellied house gecko(Hemidactylus flaviviridis) hunting an Oleander hawk moth. There was a big fight between the two individuals afterwards on that prey item. I have more photos of various lizards hunting for different types of prey item, but currently this is the only one I have uploaded on flickr.

ImageHemidactylus flaviviridis by Chaitanya Shukla, on Flickr

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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by JBBoiler » August 28th, 2015, 7:54 pm

Image

Image

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Lizards Eating Insects and other Animals

Post by Kelly Mc » August 28th, 2015, 11:13 pm

If these photos don't put the Eye to Eye myth to rest, I don't know what could!

We have seen depicted healthy adult lizards with no visible deficit of flourish devour organisms that clearly surpass what most captive guidelines deem appropriate.

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