Lizards are a widespread group of reptiles we’ll all have crossed paths with at least once in our lives. Whether smaller ones scuttering around a hot terrace floor in the middle of summer, or big ones like the Komodo dragon, lizards are present on all continents except Antarctica, and can range in size from a few centimeters to 3 meters.
These animals are well-known for their ability to eschew predators due to a number of adaptations such as camouflage, venom, reflex bleeding, and also the infamous ability to drop their tails in a fight, and regrow them later. They are also very fast movers.
However, there are number of predators for lizards too. Let’s have a look at the most successful ones.
List of Lizard Predators
The first predator of lizards is hawks. These birds are quick and agile and can spot lizards from really far away, swoop down and eat them. They are pretty easy pickings for most other birds of prey actually, and even for smaller birds who look for worms but will just as easily settle for lizards.
Of course, the eating habits of hawks are influenced by their habitat and – if given the chance – they will prioritise bigger animals for prey. However, if required, bird of prey in general feed on animals as small as insects, so lizards would actually constitute a bonus in that scenario. Finally, hawks prey on both dead and live animals, so a dead lizard which still appears in good shape will be a tempting source for a snack.
Many of us have found our dogs playing with a lizard in the back garden. They’ll eat it as an opportunity, not pro-actively, except in the case of stray dogs who are hungry and desperately looking for something to supplement their diet.
As far as domestic dogs are concerned, pet owners have been historically opposed to their animals eating lizards as the latter were believed to be toxic for the dog. However, research shows this is not the case. Eating a lizard is not 100% dangerous for dogs, in fact it’s the opposite most of the time. It is worth noting though, that lizards can carry parasites and especially a parasitic liver fluke which can then be transmitted to pets such as cats and dogs and will be harmful to them.
Either by constriction or through venomous bites, snakes can overpower and eat lizards easily. Like in other cases, the size makes a big difference so, if the two are matched, a snake will attack and prey on a lizard, making snakes, one of the biggest predators of lizards.
These little animals are vicious predators and are often known to feed on lizards. Their diet is mainly made up of crabs, snakes, insects, small birds, rodents, and lizards. They are well-known for being able to attack venomous snakes, but lizards can also make for a convenient source of food if required.
Any wild cat or even domestic ones are opportunistic lizard predators who will attack a lizard if it seems convenient to do so. Bobcats and other wild cats are often found to eat lizards.
Domestic cats should be prevented from eating lizards where possible, as they are in danger of catching a parasitic liver fluke. This is carried by the lizard and doesn’t actually harm it at all, but for a cat, it can cause serious issues leading up to fatal liver inflammation. Lizards can also carry salmonella, which can make dogs and cats very ill, so this is another reason they are not exactly a good prey for domestic pets.
6. Other Lizards
As is the law of nature, bigger lizards don’t hesitate to eat smaller ones. So, for a smaller lizard, even others of its (broader) kind can be a predator. The only distinction here is that there are non-carnivorous lizards and they will not prey on another lizard. However, carnivorous lizards can be a serious danger to even their own kind. For example, Komodo dragon hatchlings have to hide in trees to avoid being preyed upon by other adult Komodo dragons.
Smaller lizards are often attacked by bigger spiders, but are successful in defending themselves by relying on speed to run away. Camouflage can also fool spiders so they don’t notice the lizards.
Interestingly, the regal jumping spider (less than a tenth of an ounce big) can even eat lizards and insects much bigger than it. According to studies, this predator of lizards can prey on lizards three times its own size.
People eat lizards in a lot of cultures all over the Globe. The main concern with eating them comes from a hygienic perspective, and yet many places will use their meat. Most lizards are not poisonous and their meat can be lean and full of nutrients, albeit in small quantities. Therefore, you would imagine that it is not an efficient use of human energy to prey on lizards, unless in very extreme cases for survival. However, some cultures will have them as exotic delicacies.
Furthermore, reptile eggs are edible for humans too.
Alternatively, people use lizards of all sizes for their skins – making accessories.
9. Possums and raccoons
Depending on how much other food is readily available for these scavengers, they will settle for lizards they can catch easily. The challenge here is that lizards will be more sluggish in the middle of the day in the sunshine, while raccoons and possums are primarily nocturnal, so there is a mismatch in times when they might be able to hunt the lizards.
Chickens have an omnivore diet, which means they’ll eat anything really. Depending on where they’re roaming and how hungry they are, they can easily catch and prey on a lizard.
Lizards vary massively in size and abilities, and therefore can be victims to a large number of predators depending on where they are in the world and what their vulnerabilities are. Despite many adaptations, they are eaten widely and even by other lizards. I hope that this article on lizard predators was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page!