The short answer is biting, camouflage, hissing, squirting blood from their eyes, bright colours and removing their tails. If you are looking for some more in-depth detail on this, and more answers to common follow up questions, keep reading.
Surrounded by their enemies, how do lizards keep their cool and find out ways to survive? These might be the first questions that pop into your head when talking about lizard predators.
Well, it is quite essential for most pet owners to know these different defense mechanisms as these lizards pet can use them against you if they deem you threatening.
For example, some lizards might be venomous which might be something you should know. Apart from that, it is necessary that you keep you lizards safe from any predators.
So, you might wonder how do lizards escape from their enemies. Well, to answer your most questions, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about lizards and their defense mechanisms.
How Do They Use Biting?
When face to face with a dangerous predator, some lizards might resort to biting it to scare them away. Although all lizards can bite, only two of them are known for being venomous.
The Gila Monster and the Beaded Lizard have venomous bites which come in handy when fighting off predators. When in danger, they will bite the predator which will cause them to die so they can no longer pursue their prey.
Unlike snakes, most lizards chew the poison into their enemies instead of injecting it. In humans, the venom has the same effect as the pit viper venom, however, the symptoms are much less severe.
For humans, the venom is not fatal and only results in headaches, pain, swelling, swollen lymph nodes, weakness, sweating etcetera. The lizard is often hard to dislodge and you may have to resort to removing it with pliers. The tooth fragments must be removed as soon as possible.
How Do They use Camouflage?
Camouflage is the act of using materials, coloration or light to conceal yourself into a specific environment. Lizards mostly use color to camouflage and hide away from the predators.
Small lizards that are mostly brown and black can easily blend into the environment where they live, near trees. It makes them much harder to see and thus they remain safe from any potential predators.
Some lizards might also use it as a warning. Lizards such as the Gila Monster and the Beaded Lizard use camouflage as a form of warning to their predators that they are venomous.
However, many other non-venomous lizards have bright tails to make their predators think that they are dangerous.
Some lizards such as Chameleons change their color based on their environment to camouflage themselves into their surroundings. Most other lizards use their spiky texture to look like rocks.
What Does Hissing Do to Protect Them?
You might already be familiar with hissing as a defense mechanism. Most animals hiss at their predators to scare them away or to warn them. Lizards are no exception to this rule.
This is actually a quite common method of scaring away their enemies. Their hiss serves as a warning to their enemies. However, other reptiles may use hissing with a wide variety of other techniques to appear much more dangerous to their enemies.
A great example is a frilled lizard which opens its frill and hisses at the same time to scare the predators away.
How Does Removing its Tail help it Escape?
You might already know about this eccentric phenomenon. Commonly found in leopard geckos and even house lizards, they can easily shed their tail if they feel threatened.
This defense mechanism works well in case the predator has taken a hold of the lizard through their tails..
Breaking away the tail allows the lizard to escape from the clutched of the predator. Even when it is simply stressed by a moving enemy, it drops its tail off.
The result is that the predator might be confused and might focus on eating the tail while the lizard can make its getaway. It may even confound and shock the predator into not following the lizard anymore.
Some other species such as geckos leave around moving tails.
The predator might go for the moving tail instead of the lizard thus saving it. Most lizards can easily grow their tails back depending on the type of species.
Why Do Some Lizards Squirt Blood from their Eyes?
Like most defense mechanisms, squirting blood from their eyes is another technique to scare away their predators. This mechanism is usually used by the southern desert horned lizard.
When in danger, the lizard fills its sinuses with blood and shoots it out of its eyes. They usually cut off the flow of blood to the heart and instead redirect it to ocular sinuses.
As a result, these sinuses expand in size. They then contract these muscles to increase pressure and then release the blood from their eyes.
The bloodstream is often shot up 4 feet from the eye socket. The blood tastes very bad so, a shot into the mouth of a predator might discourage it from eating the lizard.
It might even cause it to distract the predator so the lizard can make its getaway.
Can They inflate their Bodies to Look Larger?
Like most animals, lizards puff their bodies up to make them look much larger than they are. Most lizards are found to puff their throat out to appear larger and thus discouraging the predator from eating them.
An example can be the bearded dragon. Some other lizards such as the horned toad lizard and horny devil puff up their entire bodies to appear more menacing and threatening and thus, warding off any potential attacks..
They appear like a spiky balloon and discourage others from eating them.
Do They Whip their Tails As a Defense Mechanism?
Whipping their tails is yet another defense mechanism used mostly by larger lizards to scare off any potential predators. Lizards such as the Green Iguana lash their tails out when confronted with an attack.
The actually use it to attack and harm other animals. It might even result in bleeding or seriously hurting their enemies.
What is the Blue-Tongue Attack? (Like The Blue-Tongued Skink)
Lizards such as the Blue-Tongues Skink have a blue ultra-violet tongue capable of reflecting such colors. When these lizards stick their tongue out, predators might be intimidated by the bright color and may not want to attack. It may even shock and daze their predators into not moving.
The tongue is broad from the base and narrow at the tip. They can even expand the tongue out to further intensify the bright colors. Studies have shown that the back of their tongues is much more UV intense than the front. The back is shown only in the most extreme cases where the predator might be UV sensitive.
So, one might wonder why do they not use this defense mechanism with the whole tongue in the first try. The main reason why their defense is so powerful is that it has an element of surprise to it.
If they start flicking their tongues very often, it might allow the predators to become used to it. It might also attract more attention to them. Thus, most blue-tongued skinks use the mechanism as a last minute resort.
What Are Lizards’ Biggest Predators?
Lizards are often a hot menu item for most other animals. There are a wide variety of predators that can prove to be dangerous to the lizard. Birds are a common predator that easily snatch these animals away since they love hanging out in the open Sun.
There are many mammals such as fox, wild cats, canines that consume lizards and their eggs. It depends mainly on the location of the lizard. Coyotes and snakes can be a huge enemy to the lizard.
Sometimes, other larger lizards can easily eat the smaller ones. Most larger lizards eat the young of others. Even lizards of the same species might indulge in cannibalism and eat the young of their own species. Lizards are not safe from parasites either.
Various insects and rodents are known to kill and eat a lizard or cause them to starve by attaching themselves to the lizard.
Humans are also considered a threat to lizards in a number of ways. Whereas most humans usually consider house lizards a pest and tend to destroy them.
In more primitive parts of the world such as Africa, tribes are known to hunt and eat lizards when food is scarce. This is probably why lizards have developed a wide number of defense mechanisms to wriggle out of such situations.
All in all, since lizards have a large number of predators, they use many tricks to ward them off. These could include biting them, hissing at them, squirting blood, showing off their blue tongues or using their bright colors. These serve as an essential source for the survival of the lizard and is essential in studying their behavior.
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