Wild Fact #167 – The Ambush – Leopard Lizard

Leopard Lizard

Did You Know?

  • The Leopard Lizard is ┬ánative to western USA and into the northern part of Mexico
  • The tail of this lizard is often longer than their entire body
  • When threatened the Leopard Lizard will typically employ the ever popular “Freeze” mechanism
  • When running at full speed the fore limbs of this lizard are usually raised off the ground

Kings of their Niche

While the Leopard Lizard may not be a giant in the mammal world, they typically measure in around 15 cm (5.8 inches) which is not a bad size in the lizard world. In their ecosystem the Leopard Lizard is considered to be a very successful predator feeding readily on insects other lizards and even rodents (on occasion). These lizards are not afraid to take on large prey items and many have been known to choke to death as they try to swallow animals larger than themselves.Leopard Lizard

How does the Leopard Lizard Hunt?

They wait. That’s right, this particular lizard likes to employ a little technique known as the “Ambush Method”. They will lay motionless under the bushes, patiently waiting for their unsuspecting prey to come wandering by. As the prey gets close the Leopard Lizard will leap into action and very quickly grasp their meal with their extremely powerful jaws. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting snack this particular lizard is capable of jumping over 2 m (6 feet) in any direction making their chances of survival very minimal.

Freeze Tag

Although it mays seem like the Leopard Lizard has it made in the shade with their successful predatory techniques, they too need to be on the lookout for hungry predators such as birds, coyotes, badgers and even snakes. When they feel the threat of a predator this lizard will quickly run underneath a bush, flatten their body and remain completely motionless until the threat has passed. The speed and agility they use to catch their meals also comes in handy when trying to evade larger predators. Like most other lizards, if the Leopard Lizard happens to get caught they are are capable of dropping their tail in one final attempt to escape. While their tail will grow back, this is usually a last ditch effort and not one used lightly. After all, it can’t be fun losing a limb!

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