Over the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been spending a lot of time caring for Anolis carolinensis hatchlings as part of my common garden experiment. One of the most striking things that I’ve noticed about these growing lizards is how a hatchling’s hunting behavior changes over time. Description of juvenile hunting behavior and a cool hunting video from a different species after the jump…
For the first few days after hatching, the anoles are very wary and spend nearly all their time at top of the cage huddled in between the cage and the lid. They ignore any food (typically 1/8″ crickets) I place in the cage, seeming not to realize that crickets are food and it’s time to eat. The lizards will eat but only they are on the cage floor and only if the crickets come to them. The lizards aren’t hunters yet.
The real, lizardy hunting behavior that we all know and love starts around 2 weeks of age. The lizard at this age still directs a wary look at the human feeding it, but it quickly forgets the human once it spots a cricket moving, typically in the cage’s potted plant. The lizard’s gaze shifts to the cricket, just noting its movement for a while. Then, the lizard begins to stalk, moving carefully through the plant until the cricket is within striking distance. A quick pounce, some chewing, and down the hatch.
I was thinking to myself the other day that I needed to get some video of this behavior. Luckily for you all, given my questionable artistic abilities, I found the following link instead. This YouTube video shows a hatchling Anolis vermiculatus stalking and catching a fly. In it, you can see the lizard become aware of the fly, take its eye off the fly to check out what I presume is the human filming, then maneuver itself into strike position, and finally, around 2:15, make the catch. And, the video is set to classical music no less. Enjoy!
PS: In light of the Glor lab’s recent posts about keeping a lizard colony, I’ll make one comment about feeding captive lizards. I like dropping feeder crickets into the potted plant. The container keeps the crickets from crawling under the cage carpet, at least for a while, and the lizards seem to be more comfortable hunting in the plant than the cage floor.