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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California






Lizard Behavior -
Hunting and Feeding and Predators

 








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These are pictures and videos that illustrate some of the interesting behaviors of some of the lizards shown on this web site. (Not all interesting lizard behaviors are shown here, only those from this site. More will be added here as they are added to the site.) Follow the links on the name of each species to find more pictures and information about it.

Hunting and Feeding
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.   A San Francisco Alligator Lizard tries to eat a lizard photographer. The attempt was unsuccessful.
An adult male Yarrow's Spiny Lizard eating a bug in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona. © Bob Herrmann A San Francisco Alligator Lizard tries to eat a lizard photographer. The attempt was unsuccessful.
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 Texas Patch-nosed Snake eating Texas Spotted Whiptail Texas Patch-nosed Snake eating Texas Spotted Whiptail Texas Patch-nosed Snake eating Texas Spotted Whiptail
An Eastern Six-lined Racerunner
 eating an insect in Florida.

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.

Lizard Predators
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.
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
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 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
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 Roadrunner with a whiptail in its bill.
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 California Legless Lizard that it had recently eaten. © Donald Schultz Roadrunners prey on whiptails and other lizards. This one has caught a Desert Grassland Whiptail in Arizona.
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 San Diego Alligator Lizard successfully defending itself against an American Crow.

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. This Long-tailed Brush Lizard fell prey to a Roadrunner.
Sometimes the predator loses the battle and becomes the victim.
This series shows 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. © Mark McCormick
This Long-tailed Brush Lizard fell prey to a Roadrunner.
striped racer striped racer striped racer roadrunner
This series shows a California Striped Racer eating a male Great Basin Fence lizard in San Diego County. © Sean Kelly Click to see a YouTube video of a cooing Roadrunner in San Bernardino County with a Great Basin Whiptail in its bill.
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
George Lizard Eater Speckled Rattlesnake Speckled Rattlesnake Desert Striped Whipsnake
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 they roam. They seem to do it for sport even if they're not hungry. This is one of many good reasons to keep your cat indoors. (This bad boy refused to stay inside and loved to eat ground skinks, mice, and anything else he had learned to feed on when he was feral.)

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
       

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