Natural History Notes Holbrookia lacerata (Spot-tailed Earless Lizard) Predation
Authors: Neuharth, D., S. Frizzell, W.A. Ryberg, and T.J. Hibbitts
Full text originally published in the Herpetological Review 49(3). Natural History Notes (PDF)
HOLBROOKIA LACERATA (Spot-tailed Earless Lizard)
PREDATION. Holbrookia lacerata is a small phrynosomatid lizard that inhabits short-grass prairies in central and south Texas (USA) and adjacent Mexico. Populations of this species are thought to be in decline, but little is known about its natural history, especially sources of predation. Here we report an observation of predation on H. lacerata by a Rio Grande Ground Squirrel, Ictidomys parvidens. At 1325 h on 4 June 2017, during a telemetry study of H. lacerata on Laughlin Air Force Base in Val Verde County, Texas, USA, while attempting to locate a study lizard on the airfield, we received a signal, and approximately 30 m ahead a ground squirrel was eating a food item. Upon further inspection through binoculars, the food item was determined to be the telemetered study lizard in question (Fig. 1). The lizard was still alive when first sighted. The squirrel shook the lizard a few times, and then began eating it, headfirst. When approached, the squirrel retreated to a nearby burrow with the lizard. The lizard was a gravid female (SVL = 58 mm, mass = 6.4 g). The lizard had two missing toes and a partially regrown tail, perhaps contributing to its capture. Sciurid consumption of animals, particularly small vertebrates, has been well documented (Callahan 1993. Great Basin Nat. 53:137–144) but little literature exists on the specific predatory habits of Ictidomys parvidens. This squirrel is native to southern and western Texas, southeast New Mexico, and adjacent Mexico. It occupies grass and shrublands, and shares much of this habitat with H. lacerata. These two species are commonly encountered on the airfield portion of the base. Both also exist in above-average numbers (as compared to surrounding habitat) and interactions between species are likely not uncommon.
Neuharth, D., S. Frizzell, W.A. Ryberg, and T.J. Hibbitts. 2018. Holbrookia lacerata (Spot-tailed Earless Lizard) Predation. Herpetological Review 49:537.