To revisit an earlier post, here is some more information about the Southern Bahamas Anole, Anolis scriptus. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, this species is a crucial component of the terrestrial herpetofauana… as prey for other reptiles!
Readers of this blog might wish to avoid graphic details about anoles being eaten, but it is important to reflect on the role that these species play in ecosystems and energy cycles. In the Turks and Caicos, anoles are consumed by two endemic snakes, as well as curly-tailed lizards.
Curly-tailed lizards (Leiocephalus psammodromus) are active diurnal opportunists, consuming anything they can catch, or if that fails then they will even eat road-killed conspecifics! They are responsible for modifying the behavior of Anolis on small islands where they both occur – the anoles must become more arboreal to avoid predation. However, on larger islands where tropical dry forest still occurs, the curly-tailed lizards are restricted to forest openings and edges, while anoles in the interior enjoy full use of the ground, trunks, and leaves.
Nevertheless, life in the forest is not so easy – two species of snakes are quite common in this habitat. The Caicos Dwarf Boa (Tropidophis greenwayi) is the world’s smallest constricting snake, topping out at just over 375 mm total length. This species largely preys ondwarf geckos (Sphaerodactylus), but will readily take anoles when they can catch them (see photo by Matt Niemiller).
Most West Indian boas (Epicrates) rely on anoles for prey, either as juveniles or, in some species, all the way through to adulthood. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, juvenile Turks Island Boas (Epicrates chrysogaster) feed almost exclusively on young anoles.
We should appreciate anoles for all the roles they play in these ecosystems!