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What Do Lizards Eat?

crawling lizard

Lizards are a diverse group of reptiles, and their dietary preferences can vary depending on their species and habitat. Here are the general feeding habits of lizards:

Lizards Eat Insects And Arachnids

Lizards are opportunistic feeders, and the types of insects they eat can vary depending on their species, size, and habitat. Here are some common insects that lizards may consume:

  • Crickets: Crickets are a staple in the diet of many lizard species due to their availability and high protein content. They are often used as a primary food source for pet lizards.
  • Ants: Ants are small and abundant, making them a common prey for many lizard species. They are a good source of protein.
  • Beetles: Lizards may consume various beetle species, including ground beetles, ladybugs, and dung beetles.
  • Grasshoppers and Locusts: Grasshoppers and locusts are a popular food choice for many lizards, especially those with a more carnivorous diet.
  • Mealworms and Superworms: These larvae of darkling beetles are a common food source for pet lizards. Mealworms are suitable for smaller species, while superworms are larger and can be fed to bigger lizards.
  • Butterflies and Moths: Lizards may catch flying insects like butterflies and moths. These insects are often rich in nutrients.
  • Roaches: Various types of roaches, such as Dubia roaches or discoid roaches, are used as a food source for lizards. They are a good source of protein.
  • Termites: Insects like termites are another potential food source for lizards in certain regions. They are rich in nutrients.
  • Silverfish: Lizards may feed on silverfish, which are small, nocturnal insects often found in dark and damp areas.
  • Katydids: These leaf-mimicking insects are a part of the diet of some arboreal lizard species.
  • Stick Insects: Arboreal lizards, especially those in tropical environments, may prey on stick insects due to their slow-moving nature.
  • Mantis: Mantises are larger insects that some larger lizard species may prey upon. Their predatory behavior is similar to catching larger prey.
  • Flies: Lizards, especially small ones, may catch and consume flies and other flying insects.
  • Dragonflies and Damselflies: Lizards near bodies of water may catch these aerial insects as they fly over the water's surface.
  • Spiders: Spiders are one of the most common arachnids in the diet of many lizard species. Lizards often prey on a variety of spider species, including orb-weavers, jumping spiders, and wolf spiders.
  • Scorpions: Some lizard species, particularly those in arid and desert regions, feed on scorpions. Scorpions can be a significant part of their diet, and certain lizards have developed immunity to their venom.
  • Solifugids (Camel Spiders): Lizards may eat solifugids, although these arachnids are known for their speed and aggressiveness, making them a formidable prey for some lizard species.
  • Harvestmen (Daddy Longlegs): Harvestmen are another type of arachnid that lizards may consume, as they are relatively slow-moving and easy to catch.
  • Ticks: Lizards may pick ticks off their own bodies as a form of self-grooming. Some lizards might also consume ticks as a source of additional nutrition.
  • Whip Scorpions (Vinegaroons): Whip scorpions are found in various regions and may be part of the diet of certain lizard species.
  • Amblypygids (Tailless Whip Scorpions): These arachnids, which resemble a mix between spiders and scorpions, can also be consumed by lizards.
  • Pseudoscorpions: Lizards may prey on pseudoscorpions, which are small, arachnid-like creatures often found in leaf litter and soil.
  • Wind Scorpions (Sun Spiders): Some larger lizards, especially those with a more carnivorous diet, may feed on wind scorpions.

It's essential to know the specific dietary preferences of the lizard species you are dealing with, as their hunting and feeding behaviors can vary significantly. In captivity, it's crucial to provide a varied diet that closely resembles their natural food sources to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

What Animals Do Lizards Eat?

Lizards exhibit a wide range of dietary preferences, and in addition to insects and arachnids, they may consume other animals based on their size, habitat, and specific dietary adaptations. Here are some of the animals that lizards might eat:

  • Other Reptiles: Some larger lizard species, such as monitor lizards, may prey on smaller reptiles, including other lizards, snakes, and even their own species. These lizards are carnivorous and opportunistic hunters.
  • Amphibians: Lizards, especially those that inhabit wetland areas, may consume amphibians like frogs and tadpoles. These prey items are often found near water sources.
  • Small Mammals: Larger lizard species, including monitor lizards, tegus, and iguanas, might prey on small mammals such as rodents and shrews when the opportunity arises.
  • Birds and Eggs: Certain arboreal lizard species are known to eat birds and their eggs, particularly when they venture close to their habitat. They may actively hunt for eggs in bird nests.
  • Fish: Some semi-aquatic and aquatic lizard species, like water monitors, will eat fish and aquatic invertebrates, as they are adapted to hunting in and around water.
  • Crustaceans: Lizards in coastal or mangrove environments may feed on small crustaceans, such as crabs and shrimp.
  • Mollusks: A few lizard species might consume snails and slugs, although these creatures are not a primary food source.
  • Invasive Species: In some regions, introduced or invasive species of lizards may adapt to consuming local fauna, including other lizards and small animals.
  • Carrion: Lizards, especially those with a scavenging habit, may consume carrion if they come across the carcasses of animals.
  • Invertebrates: In addition to insects and arachnids, lizards might eat other invertebrates like centipedes and millipedes.

Not all lizard species consume these additional animal types, and their diet can vary greatly based on their ecological niche. In captivity, a balanced diet that replicates their natural food sources, whether they are primarily insectivores, herbivores, or carnivores, is essential for their well-being. Understanding the specific dietary requirements of the lizard species in your care is crucial to provide proper nutrition.

Some Lizards Eat Plants

Lizards that have herbivorous tendencies typically consume a variety of plant material as a significant part of their diet. The specific types of plants lizards eat can vary depending on their species and the vegetation available in their natural habitat. Here are some examples of plants that herbivorous lizards may consume:

  • Leaves: Lizards often graze on leaves from a wide range of plant species. These can include the leaves of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Some lizards, such as iguanas, are particularly known for their leaf-eating habits.
  • Flowers: Certain lizard species, like some iguanas, consume flowers as a source of nutrition. Flower nectar can provide sugars and energy.
  • Fruits: Many lizards relish ripe fruits, which are a good source of sugars and vitamins. They may eat fruits like berries, figs, and tropical fruits.
  • Tender Shoots and Stems: Lizards might consume tender plant shoots and stems. These parts of plants are often softer and more easily digestible.
  • Seeds: Some herbivorous lizards will eat seeds, particularly those of grasses and other small plants. Seeds can provide a source of carbohydrates and fats.
  • Algae and Moss: Lizards, particularly those living in damp or tropical environments, may consume algae and moss found on rocks, trees, or in water.
  • Cactus Pads: Lizards like the desert-dwelling iguana and some tortoises may eat the pads of cactus plants. These pads are water-rich and offer sustenance in arid regions.
  • Succulent Plants: Certain species of lizards, like Uromastyx, are adapted to arid environments and feed on succulent plants like agaves and desert-dwelling succulents.
  • Aquatic Plants: Lizards that live near water may consume aquatic plants, such as water hyacinths and water lettuce.

Not all lizard species are herbivorous, and their dietary preferences can vary widely. Some are strict herbivores, while others have a more omnivorous diet, including a mix of plant material and animal prey. In captivity, it's crucial to provide herbivorous lizards with a diet that mimics their natural plant-based food sources to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients.