Our planet is home to hundreds of species of lizards, ranging from the giant Komodo dragon to tiny geckos. Various studies about these reptiles have put forth several interesting aspects of their lives. Regardless of whether you plan to have a lizard as a pet, or you are doing a project on these reptiles, one thing that is bound to fascinate you, is the diversity in their diet.
Lizards - What Do They Eat
Approximately 3,500 living species of lizards are found on the planet. Each of these differ in size, appearance, habitat, and feeding habits. Like various other animal species, even lizards can be categorized into four groups on the basis of their feeding habits.
- Herbivorous lizards
- Insectivorous lizards
- Carnivorous lizards
- Omnivorous lizards
Herbivorous species include chuckwallas, iguanas, spiny-tailed agamids, etc. These lizards feed on a wide variety of plant matter including leaves, fruits, pollen, etc. In fact, lizard species which are found in deserts go to the extent of feeding on cactus. Fruits that you can feed your pet lizards―if it's a herbivore―include apples, papaya, tofu, peaches, etc. In spite of being herbivores, you will find these lizards readily feeding on insects at times. However, such practice can lead to health problems for these creatures and hence, shouldn't be encouraged.
Insectivorous species are the ones which feed various insects, such as crickets, locusts, etc. These lizards include true chameleons, alligator lizards, most of the gecko species, etc. There also exist some species, such as the horned-lizard and thorny devil which feed on ants. If you plan to own an insectivorous pet lizard, you can include butterworms, mealworms, crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, and other small insects in its diet.
Carnivorous lizards are active hunters, which feed on a range of animals and insects. Commonly found carnivorous species include various monitor lizards, Komodo dragons, etc. At times, various omnivorous species are mistaken to be carnivores. In captivity, they feed on mice, rats, fish, chicken, etc. On the other hand, in the wild, they prefer small animals, snakes, other lizard species, insects, etc. Komodo dragons have the capacity of hunting down larger animals as well. In times of food scarcity, they even feed on carrion to satiate their hunger.
Omnivorous lizard species include bearded dragons, whip-tails, knight anoles, blue-tongued skinks, race-runners, etc. The number of omnivorous species far exceeds that of herbivorous species found in the world. Besides these, there are some species which usually feed on insects and small animals, but resort to plant matter at times. The Philippine gray monitor is perhaps the best example of this. In the wild, omnivorous lizards feed on insects, carrion, fruits, pollen, etc. In captivity, you can feed them various fruits as well as rodents and insects.
Note: If you are planning to have lizards as pets, it is very important for you to be well-versed with their diet in captivity.
It may come as a surprise for you, but lizards can also feed on animals as large as deer. We are talking about the Komodo dragon―the largest living species of lizard on the planet, which hunts down deer and feeds on them. Even worse, they are known to raid human graves and feed on corpses.