What Do Garden Lizards Eat? Reptile Loved Foods Guide

what do garden lizards eat

Reptiles are a vital part of the food web because of the types of food that they consume, The types of food that reptiles eat, which are often pests to people, are an essential element of the food web. It’s easier to list and examine each prospective lizard attentively rather than generalize backyard lizard feeding habits when answering the question “what do garden lizards eat?”

The term “garden lizard” refers to a group of small lizards found in gardens and homes. These lizards feed flies, ants, crickets, spiders, and larvae, among other insects. They can also consume waxworms, butterworms, and hornworms as treats.

What do garden lizards eat in the United States?

The first step in determining what’s on the menu is identifying the types of lizards you’re likely to encounter.

In the United States, there are 118 species divided into eight families. There are geckos, chameleons, and iguanas among them and lesser-known species, including ground lizards, legless lizards, and race runners.

They are primarily found in temperate, subtropical, and tropical climates. The reason for this is that lizards, like all reptiles, are ectotherms or cold-blooded creatures.

That is, the temperature of the animal is a mirror of its surroundings. Reptiles vary from mammals in that they maintain a constant internal temperature that is unaffected by their environment.

Other traits of these reptiles include:

  • Dry skin
  • Scale-covered bodies
  • Ability to molt their outer skin
  • No sweat glands
  • Possess at least one lung
  • Inability to chew food

Getting to the bottom of what garden lizards eat

Much of what lizards eat is determined by their size, both directly and indirectly, and their behavior and hunting or foraging technique. You’ll discover anything from small anoles (approximately 3-5 inches long, including the tail) to the mighty Komodo dragon (up to 10 feet long).

Lots of people even like to keep them as pets. Keeping a good diet is essential to help a lizard extend their life. We already covered how long do common lizard species live.

Their diet changes depending on the habitat, as it and its environment are inextricably intertwined, showing their flexibility and evolutionary history.

Animal size and nutrition

Predation is the primary source of food for most lizards. The diet ranges from ants, which horned lizards enjoy, to bird eggs, which Gila monsters eat, and more giant creatures, which a Komodo dragon may hunt.

But it’s not a one-and-done situation. Iguanas, for example, can grow to be 6 feet long but survive on a plant-based diet with the occasional bug for protein.

Other species, such as Clark’s spiny lizard from the Southwest, are omnivores that eat meat and plants.

Habitat and diet

Animal species thrive by securing a niche in which they can limit competition from other predators. The more varied the environment, the more probable a lizard will concentrate on a single food source.

This specialization can also be found in several lizard physical features that have evolved to provide lizards with a competitive niche advantage.

Style of predation

When you ask, “What do garden lizards eat?” you should also inquire as to how they obtain their prey. With prey-predator connections, these hunting techniques are common motifs throughout the animal realm.

Some lizards stalk their prey, ready to attack or ambush an unsuspecting organism. They actively hunt or scavenge for food at other times. The greater their victim, the more stealth they’ll need to get the job done.

Human Influence on What Garden Lizards Eat

People impact lizards’ diets, whether they live close to humans or are kept as pets. Because food is readily available in the former, we may be able to influence what they consume.

People have a direct influence on what lizards consume in the latter. You purchase the mealworms, crickets, or any other food source the animals will eat.

People also contribute to the availability of prey through the plants in our gardens, which influence which species live in the environments your backyard reptile guests prefer.

Unfortunately, not all lizards have a happy life.

One of the most severe dangers to many lizard species is habitat loss. Furthermore, non-native invasive plants encroach on their ranges, often out-competing the species they prefer to eat. In addition, lizards are becoming more vulnerable to outdoor dogs, which is to bear in mind if you wish to attract lizards to your yard.

What garden lizards eat by species

Then we’ll look at which species are most likely to appear in your yard and what they eat. In comparison to the single species found in New England, the Southwest offers more variety. The warmer the climate you reside in, the more likely you will share your home with lizards.

Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

This lizard can be found all over the Southeast. Because they are docile and straightforward to handle, they are frequently sold at pet stores. Because of their capacity to change colors for camouflage, they are sometimes referred to as chameleons. Flies and crickets are their primary food sources.

Five-Lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)

The five-lined skink can be found all along the Eastern Seaboard and even into Canada. It is the only species that may be found in the state of Massachusetts. It’s a tiny lizard that only grows to be approximately 8 inches long. They can be found in open woodlands, where they can eat beetles, spiders, and other insects, among other things.

Eastern Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)

The dry parts of the Southwest are home to the eastern collared lizard. It’s a remarkable creature with a bright orange head and a turquoise body. It is swift and can run on its hind legs. These reptiles eat the same things as the others, but they will also devour smaller lizards.

Desert Iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis)

You might come across a desert iguana if you dwell in the Southwest scrublands. Unlike the previous species, these lizards are herbivores that devour the native flora of the area, mainly the creosote bush.

Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister)

The desert spiny lizard is another common lizard that can be found in the Southwest is the desert spiny lizard, which can be found in Utah, Nevada, or California. It wears a black band around its neck and has a large head.

The lizard’s capacity to change hue in response to temperature allows it to absorb more heat when needed. It feeds on desert caterpillars, centipedes, and small lizards.

Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus)

The western banded gecko is a night species that prefers to hunt for baby scorpions and insects at night. On summer nights, they’ll approach human settlements in search of food. The lizard defends itself from predators by imitating scorpions, one of its prey.

Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis)

The prairie skink is a rare species found in the northern United States and even Canada, where it is protected in some places. It eats insects and invertebrates that reside in the open grasslands where it prefers to live.

Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus)

The Italian wall lizard isn’t native to this area, as its name suggests. It was introduced to the Northeast and now lives happily there. As you might expect, the lizard loves rocky locations yet is adaptable to urban environments. Spiders, beetles, and the rare wasp are its primary prey.

These lizards are exceedingly adaptable, and their distribution is rapidly expanding westward throughout the country, with reports as far west as Kansas and the Great Plains.

Final Thoughts

Because their diet often includes insects, spiders, and other pests that we don’t want, these reptiles are often welcome visitors to any yard. While the majority are carnivores, others eat various foods, including fruits, plants, and other lizards.

You might ask, “What do garden lizards eat?” if you see one scampering around. Whatever they can get that is smaller than them is the answer.

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Emma Olsen
I’m a gardener and blogger with over 20 years of expertise writing about and cultivating fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. I have extensive experience in organic and sustainable gardening, perennials, annuals, and sustainable and urban farming. I’m a nature freak and I enjoy bird watching and swimming with sea creatures.