CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California






Lizard Behavior and Life History -
Hunting, Feeding, Defecating, and Predators

 









observation link

 

Lizards Hunting and Feeding
Also see Lizards eating other Lizards below
short-horned lizard short-horned lizard In this video, an Arizona Striped Whiptail eats a small invertebrate.  I crawled under a bush with a friendly Desert Iguana and tossed him a desert willow flower which he gobbled up for the video camera.
Short Video:
On a sunny June day a small adult Pygmy Short-horned Lizard let me follow it around closely as it searched for food, running from one slightly-elevated perch to another, then raising up on all fours and cocking its head from side to side to scan for ants. When an ant was spotted, the lizard quickly ran to it, opened its mouth, and grabbed it with its big sticky tongue. In this video I have edited together several short feeding instances, with most of the running around, searching and waiting for ants to appear removed.
Short Video:
More views of the same Pygmy Short-horned Lizard on the left hunting, feeding on ants, and trying to catch flying bugs.
Short Video:
An Arizona Striped Whiptail eats a small invertebrate.
Short Video:
I crawled under a bush with a friendly Northern Desert Iguana and tossed him a desert willow flower which he gobbled up. Desert Iguanas love those tasty petals.

In this video, a large old male Common Chuckwalla puts on a great show as he basks in the sun, does a few pushups, eats some bushes, then poops. This video shows a LIttle White Whiptail hunting for red ants in the white sands. This video shows a Texas Horned Lizard running around. At one point it quickly eats an ant. A Plateau Tiger whiptail digs in the sand with all four legs looking for food in this short video.
Short Video:
A large old male Common Chuckwalla puts on a great show as he basks in the sun, does a few pushups, eats some bushes, then poops.
Short Video:
A LIttle White Whiptail hunting for red ants around an anthill in the white sands of New Mexico.
Short Video:
A Texas Horned Lizard running around. At one point it quickly eats an ant.
Short Video:
A Plateau Tiger whiptail digs in the sand with all four legs looking for food.
This short video shows some dark phase Great Basin Fence Lizards basking and eating small ants crawling over some rocks. anole iguana 6-year-old lizard wrangler Enzo Forte holds a sub-adult San Diego Alligator Lizard that he found trying to kill and eat a potato bug in Ventura County. The lizard continued even after being picked up and struggled with the bug for about an hour before finally severing the bug's head. © Domiane Forte.
Short Video:
Dark phase Great Basin Fence Lizards basking and eating small ants that are crawling over some rocks.
Short Video:
Not all feeding attempts are successful:
In this short video, a light-phase Northern Green Anole in Florida tries to catch a fly, but fails. 
Short Video:
Green Iguanas are mostly vegetarian. This video shows one munching on some sea grape flowers near a beach in Florida.
6-year-old lizard wrangler Enzo Forte holds a sub-adult San Diego Alligator Lizard that he found trying to kill and eat a potato bug in Ventura County. The lizard continued even after being picked up and struggled with the bug for about an hour before finally severing the bug's head. © Domiane Forte.
Bob Herrmann © took these outstanding photos of an adult male  Yarrow's Spiny Lizard eating a bug in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona.   Bob Herrmann © took these outstanding photos of an adult male  Yarrow's Spiny Lizard eating a bug in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona.   Bob Herrmann © took these outstanding photos of an adult male  Yarrow's Spiny Lizard eating a bug in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona.   Granite Spiny Lizards
An adult male Yarrow's Spiny Lizard eating a bug in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona. © Bob Herrmann A Woodland Alligator Lizard eating a beetle. © Huck Triggs
Night active adult, San Diego County, eating a spider. © Stuart Young  Night active adult, San Diego County, eating a spider. © Stuart Young  collared lizard eating mouse collared lizard eating mouse
A adult Granite Night Lizard eating a spider at night. © Stuart Young

A large male Great Basin Collared Lizard eating a small rodent on a cool day in March in Washoe County, Nevada.  © Richard Lingo
racerunner Shasta Alligator Lizard Granite Spiny Lizards Granite Spiny Lizards
An Eastern Six-lined Racerunner
 eating an insect in Florida.

This adult Shasta Alligator Lizard was found eating a huge Jerusalem Cricket
© Jason McKinney
This telephoto enlargement shows a Granite Spiny Lizard using it's large sticky tongue to eat something crawling on a rock. This adult male Southern Italian Wall Lizard - Podarcis siculus siculus, is drinking drops of rainwater that were trapped on a piece of plastic garbage at a Roman archiological ruin site on Sardinia, Italy. © Guntram Deichsel
A San Francisco Alligator Lizard tries to eat a lizard photographer. The attempt was unsuccessful. Great Basin Whiptail Mediterranean House Gecko Northern Desert Horned Lizard
An adult San Francisco Alligator Lizard tries to eat a lizard photographer. The attempt was unsuccessful. Short Video:
A Great Basin Whiptail in the Kern County Mohave Desert digs around looking for food, then eats a red ant, but has trouble with it.
A Mediterranean Gecko shows its
tongue when it licks its lips after eating a flying insect.
When horned lizards are actively hunting, they stand up high on their legs, often standing on a rock to help them raise up higher off the ground. They do this to increase their field of vision. When they see a bug moving, then they run quickly toward it. This Northern Desert Horned Lizard let the photographer get very close then ran towards her to catch a fly. © Debra Frost
Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Western Fence Lizard Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Western Fence Lizard Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Western Fence Lizard Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Western Fence Lizard
This San Luis Obispo County Coast Range Fence Lizard crept up to an adult Antlion, lunged to catch it, then swallowed it whole. © Joel A. Germond
West African Rainbow Lizard Coastal Whiptail Coastal Whiptail northern pacific rattlesnake
The Gold Dust Day Gecko is a species that has been introduced on the island of Hawai'i. It's known to consume invertebrates, flower pollen, nectar, and soft fruit, which apparently includes the cherries stuck to the umbrellas in tropical drinks. © Mark Gary Adult San Diegan Tiger Whiptail eating a potato bug, Los Angeles County
© Joel A. Germond
Adult San Diegan Tiger Whiptail eating a Jerusalem Cricket in the Santa Monica Mountains, Los Angeles County
© Max Roberts
California Whiptail California Whiptail    
This juvenile California Whiptail was observed in Santa Barbara County eating a small leathery egg, possibly a lizard or snake egg. The whiptail worked the egg around in its mouth for quite awhile, then spat it out half deflated, flicked its tongue out for awhile, then picked it back up, and swallowed it completely. © E. Sergeant    
     
Lizards Defecating
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail California Whiptail
This is a series of pictures showing how a California Whiptail defecates. (Viewed sequentially from top row left to right, then bottom row left to right.)
The white part is a solid plug of uric acid, which is followed by the darker feces. © Wim de Groot
fence lizard poop Common Chuckwalla    
Short Video:
A Northwestern Fence Lizard does his business for the camera, then runs towards it.
Short Video:
A large old male chuckwalla gets some sun, does some pushups, eats some plants, then poops.
   
     
Lizard Predators
       
Lizards Eating Lizards Snakes Eating Lizards Birds Eating Lizards Miscellaneous Lizard Predation
       
Lizards Eating Other Lizards
fence lizard with ticks fence lizard with ticks fence lizard with ticks  
An adult Coast Range Fence Lizard eating a juvenile of the same species in San Luis Obispo County. © Joel A. Germond  
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard    
Adult Long-nosed Leopard Lizard eating a Great Basin Whiptail on a road in San Bernardino County. (It is not known if the whiptail was killed by the leopord lizard or if it was dead before it was consumed.
© Alexandra Hicks
This juvenile Long-nosed Leopard Lizard is eating a juvenile Great Basin Whiptail in Inyo County. Swallowing the complete tail is probably going to take some time.
© Jaye B
   
       
Snakes Eating Lizards
       
A Long-nosed Snake eating a Great Basin Whiptail  © Lynette Schimming. A Long-nosed Snake eating a Great Basin Whiptail  © Lynette Schimming. A Long-nosed Snake eating a Great Basin Whiptail  © Lynette Schimming. A captive Texas Nightsnake eats a  Mediterranean Gecko.
This series shows a Long-nosed Snake eating a Great Basin Whiptail  © Lynette Schimming. A captive Texas Nightsnake eats a
Mediterranean Gecko.
A Red Coachwhip eating a San Diego Alligator Lizard. © Samantha Zahringer.  Samantha Zahringer watched this coachwhip eat the lizard by her back door. Her kids saw the snake attack the lizard. It raised its head and neck off the ground, swayed for a moment, then struck quickly. Two other lizards nearby froze while the snake swallowed its meal, then they ran away quickly.  A Red Coachwhip eating a San Diego Alligator Lizard. © Samantha Zahringer.  Samantha Zahringer watched this coachwhip eat the lizard by her back door. Her kids saw the snake attack the lizard. It raised its head and neck off the ground, swayed for a moment, then struck quickly. Two other lizards nearby froze while the snake swallowed its meal, then they ran away quickly.  california kingsnake california kingsnake
A Red Racer eating a San Diego Alligator Lizard © Samantha Zahringer.

Samantha Zahringer watched this coachwhip eat the lizard by her back door. Her kids saw the snake attack the lizard. It raised its head and neck off the ground, swayed for a moment, then struck quickly. Two other lizards nearby froze while the snake swallowed its meal, then they ran away quickly.
This striped California Kingsnake is eating a San Diego Alligator Lizard in San Diego County. © Liz Samperi
Ring-necked Snakes use a mild venom to subdue their prey which include snakes and lizards. This snake from San Diego County regurgitated a California Legless Lizard that it had recently eaten. © Donald Schultz Ring-necked Snakes use a mild venom to subdue their prey which include snakes and lizards. This snake from San Diego County regurgitated a California Legless Lizard that it had recently eaten. © Donald Schultz Ring-necked Snakes use a mild venom to subdue their prey which include snakes and lizards. This snake from San Diego County regurgitated a California Legless Lizard that it had recently eaten. © Donald Schultz Great Basin Gopher Snake
Ring-necked Snakes use a mild venom to subdue their prey which include snakes and lizards. After being handled, this ring-necked snake from San Diego County regurgitated a San Diegan Legless Lizard that it had recently eaten. © Donald Schultz This juvenile Southern Pacific Rattlesnake was observed eating a Western Side-blotched Lizard that had been killed on a trail and was dead for some time before it was found by the snake, which took advantage of a free meal.
© Mark Rothenay
Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard
Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard
Jay Snow took this series (left to right, top to bottom) of a Red Racer trying to eat a live Southern Desert Horned Lizard over a period of 44 minutes. The snake failed to swallow the lizard and crawled away. In the last picture you can see that the lizard lay prone for several minutes after the coachwhip left then took up to 15 minutes to clean the saliva off its face before slowly walking away, no doubt thankful for the row of horns behind its head.
© Jay Snow
Speckled Rattlesnake Speckled Rattlesnake Speckled Rattlesnake Desert Striped Whipsnake
  Sean Kelly found this juvenile Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake eating a Great Basin Fence Lizard behind his garbage can one afternoon in San Diego County.
© Sean Kelly
Desert Striped Whiptail, eating a Great Basin Whiptail, © Ceal Klinger
Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
An adult Red Diamond Rattlesnake eating a Blainville's (Coast) Horned Lizard in San Diego County © Shane Caver A Coast Patch-nosed Snake trying to kill and eat a San Diegan Tiger Whiptail in San Diego County © Tom Day
Watch a video of this at the link below.
Sometimes the predator loses the battle and becomes the victim. Mark McCormick © shot this series of a San Diego Alligator Lizard biting onto the neck of a lizard-eating California Striped Racer. After the lizard finally let go, the snake quickly raced up a steep 15 foot high cliff up into some branches. Sometimes the predator loses the battle and becomes the victim. Mark McCormick © shot this series of a San Diego Alligator Lizard biting onto the neck of a lizard-eating California Striped Racer. After the lizard finally let go, the snake quickly raced up a steep 15 foot high cliff up into some branches. Sometimes the predator loses the battle and becomes the victim. Mark McCormick © shot this series of a San Diego Alligator Lizard biting onto the neck of a lizard-eating California Striped Racer. After the lizard finally let go, the snake quickly raced up a steep 15 foot high cliff up into some branches. Great Basin Gopher Snake
Sometimes the predator loses the battle and becomes the victim.
This series shows a Woodland Alligator Lizard biting onto the neck of a lizard-eating California Striped Racer. After the lizard finally let go, the snake quickly raced up a steep 15 foot high cliff up into some branches. © Mark McCormick
A California Kingsnake has captured a San Diego Alligator Lizard in San Luis Obispo County and is constricting the lizard in its coils. © Grigory Heaton
Long-nosed Snake Long-nosed Snake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake
Battle of the Long-Noses
An adult Long-nosed Snake was found in Kern County coiled around a Long-nosed Leopard Lizard, attempting to swallow the lizard. The lizard managed to keep its mouth outside the snake's mouth and after 20 minutes, the lizard was able to escape the snake's coils and quickly limp away. It's not known if the lizard survived or died later from its injuries. © Greg Watson
Coast Gartersnake eating a Coast Range Fence Lizard in San Luis Obispo County
© Joel Germond
striped racer striped racer striped racer california kingsnake
This series shows a California Striped Racer eating a male Great Basin Fence lizard in San Diego County. © Sean Kelly A California Kingsnake eating a Pacific Gophersnake in Santa Clara County
© Faris K
Texas Patch-nosed Snake eating Texas Spotted Whiptail Texas Patch-nosed Snake eating Texas Spotted Whiptail Texas Patch-nosed Snake eating Texas Spotted Whiptail  
A Texas Patch-nosed Snake captures a Texas Spotted Whiptail, biting its tail and wrapping its body around the lizard's body to suffocate it. The snake dragged the lizard away before the observer could tell if it successfully killed and ate the lizard.
Central Texas, © Denise Kocek.

 
california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake
california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake  
This California Kingsnake was observed battling a California Alligator Lizard on a hiking trail in Santa Clara County. The alligator lizard clamped its jaws down on the snake's tail and held on tight even after it died. The snake had to pull and thrash about for more than 20 minutes before the lizard let go of the badly-damaged tail, finally allowing the snake to swallow it. © Wim de Groot  
Red Coachwhip eating San Diego Alligator Lizard Red Coachwhip eating San Diego Alligator Lizard Red Coachwhip eating San Diego Alligator Lizard  
This Woodland Alligator Lizard was found biting the head of a California Striped Racer on a driveway in Riverside County. My guess is that the snake tried to eat the lizard which successfully by clamping down on the snake's head. The outcome is unknown.  
       
Birds Eating Lizards
       
Sean Kelly shot this amazing series of pictures that show a fearless San Diego Alligator Lizard successfully defending itself from an attacking American Crow. Sean Kelly shot this amazing series of pictures that show a fearless San Diego Alligator Lizard successfully defending itself from an attacking American Crow. Sean Kelly shot this amazing series of pictures that show a fearless San Diego Alligator Lizard successfully defending itself from an attacking American Crow.  
Sean Kelly shot this amazing series of pictures that show a fearless San Diego Alligator Lizard successfully defending itself from an attacking American Crow. Sean Kelly shot this amazing series of pictures that show a fearless San Diego Alligator Lizard successfully defending itself from an attacking American Crow. Sean Kelly shot this amazing series of pictures that show a fearless San Diego Alligator Lizard successfully defending itself from an attacking American Crow.  
Sean Kelly shot this amazing series of pictures that show a fearless Woodland Alligator Lizard successfully defending itself against an American Crow.

 
Roadrunner with a whiptail in its bill. This Long-tailed Brush Lizard fell prey to a Roadrunner. roadrunner fence lizard with ticks
Roadrunners prey on whiptails and other lizards. This one has caught a Desert Grassland Whiptail in Arizona. I saw this Long-tailed Brush Lizard fall prey to a Roadrunner, then I chased the bird around a fruit orchard for 15 minutes like a deranged Wile e Coyote until it stopped long enough for this fuzzy telephoto shot. Click to see a YouTube video of a cooing Roadrunner in San Bernardino County with a Great Basin Whiptail in its bill. Hawks and other raptors include lizards among their prey. This Black Hawk was photographed high up a tree in Costa Rica with a fresh-caught lizard in its bill.
© Joel A. Germond
fence lizard with ticks fence lizard with ticks Long-nosed Snake  
This Long-tailed Brush Lizard has been hung on thorns of a shrub in the Clark County Nevada desert by a Shrike similar to the one seen to the right.
© Zachary Cava
The Loggerhead Shrike is a common predatory songbird in the North American deserts. Their prey includes lizards, which they sometimes kill then save to eat later by hanging them on thorns or even barbed wire. A Greater Roadrunner with a freshly killed Great Basin Whiptail. © Dave Feliz
You can also watch a short YouTube video of this bird perched on top of a bush with the lizard in its beak as it sings. After singing it flew down to its nest in a cholla cactus where it probably fed the whiptail to its young.
 
       
Miscellaneous Predators and Unintended Predation
This hatchling Coast Range Fence Lizard has been preyed upon by a black widow spider. © Rory Doolin
Western Side-blotched Lizards are low on the food chain, falling prey to many predators, including desert scorpions. © Todd Battey Mediterranean House Gecko  
This hatchling Coast Range Fence Lizard has been preyed upon by a black widow spider. © Rory Doolin Western Side-blotched Lizards are low on the food chain, falling prey to many predators, including desert scorpions.
© Todd Battey
An adult Mediterranean Gecko would probably eat a spider, but this juvenile gecko was found in Orange County killed by another alien species, a brown widow spider. © Larry Bowman  
lizard cat George the lizard eating cat  
Plastic mesh fencing can unintentionally trap and kill lizards. © Mark Miller Sticky glue traps can also unintentionally trap and kill lizards. © Gene R. Hannon Housecat or Domestic Cat - Felis catus

Domestic cats will kill and sometimes eat just about any small moving animal that they can catch including lizards they find in the yard, in the house, or wherever the cats roam. Outdoor pets and feral cats have decimated small wildlife in some areas. They seem to continue killing even if they don't need to eat their kill. This is one of many good reasons to keep your cat indoors, although sometimes that's impossible. (This bad boy was a rescued feral cat who refused to stay inside and eat only processed food. He continued to go outside where he sometimes ate live lizards, mice, birds, all the things he had to eat when he was feral.)

 
   


















 

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