A Giant’s Snack

Even with their large size, and spending some time in the field, it is somewhat difficult to spot a Giant Anole in Hispaniola. The most spread and common species (at least in the Dominican side) is A. baleatus, which is not an usual sight at the mesic riparian forest of “Gran Cañada” in botanical garden of Santo Domingo. But even there, sightings are just limited by spotting an animal right after it moves to hide away of view (squirreling or slowly sliding around tree trunks). This population seems to be stable and not pursued by humans, whom locally have the believe that they are harmful.

Regarding a local species, A. barahonae, the first encounter I had with this species was back in 2003, southwest of Barahona, when I saw at the distance with the help of binoculars, a White-necked Crow (Corvus leucognaphalus) holding one it its beak. This crow is a canopy and flock forager, so it is to suppose that they represent a coomon predator to that anole species.

 After that encounter, just a few more were seen, basking in a large tree in a coffee plantation, also a epiphyte-packed tree in a coud forest. This time we were exploring some rivers in the Paraiso watershed, SW Barahona, in a tributary that pours into river Paraiso. Along the road while taking photos to a basking Ameiva taeniura, I heard the some noise coming from a nearby Cecropia tree. Then I spotted the wingbeating of a Sphingid Moth, that was already in the mouth of a Baoruco Giant Anole. The anole kept still while holding prey, with tail hanging outwards of the leaves where it was perched. 



Unfortunately, I didn’t see the action before the attack, but as seen in the pictures, the death Cecropia leaves was probably the perch that the moth used to spend the day. A nocturnal species, it is likely that it was inmobile siting there just realying in its criptic coloration and pattern. In an earlier post (http://www.anoleannals.org/2011/09/20/anolis-cuvieri-on-the-prowl/), some excellent photographs by fellow naturalist Father Sanchez, showed a Puerto Ricon Giant deliberately moving in moderate heights and in several kind of perches. I often imagine that they would take their prey mostly up in the canopy or high in tree trunk, but these photograhs of the A. barahonae eating this moth were taken at a height of 3 meters, in the death leaf hanging on a small cluster of vines attaching the 5-6 meters Cecropia tree to a even shorter tree. Previous to when I heard the sounds coming from the attack, I didn’t notice any motion in the area as I was pretty close. The anole may have stalked or more likely forage and scan this (unusual?) substrate in search of prey.



About Hispanioland

Amateur naturalist, Photographer, Eco-tour guide/leader
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