On a lazy weekend afternoon, a rustling in a tree adjacent to my balcony piqued my curiosity. The leaves were aflutter, but I could not spot the stimulus that was setting off that reaction. The leaves kept moving and since I don’t believe in ghosts (despite what I write), I kept a close watch to understand what was causing the disturbance. And it turned out to be a green reptile (which I thought initially might be a gecko) that turned out to be a Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis).
Its color was incredibly similar to those of the leaves, and the only thing that gave it away was the extension of the red dewlap under its chin. This behavior in the male Carolina Anole serves to attract females or warn other males to back off, but I noticed neither.
A little later, a fly came and sat right in front of the Anole. I licked my lips and readied my camera, hoping for a moment of predation. But the Anole just sat there poker-faced. The fly buzzed off after a while.
Soon, I realized what the Anole was after. There, on the twig above the lizard, was a caterpillar of the same colour as the leaves and the Anole itself. This had arrested the Anole’s attention, and in an instant its jaws snapped shut around the lower half of the caterpillar’s body.
But if the Anole thought it had an easy meal, it was in for a mistake. The caterpillar clung onto the leaf, not letting go. Then ensued a tug-of-war between the two, one clinging onto dear life and the other persisting in its endeavour to earn its meal the hard way.
The Anole changed positions and hung on to the caterpillar with its teeth, adroitly using its own weight in its attempt to wrest the caterpillar free of its perch. The die-hard prey, by the way, still stuck fast to its leaf.
Not one to give up, the Carolina Anole stepped up its tugging efforts, until finally, finally the caterpillar’s resolve (or its back?) snapped. It was promptly swallowed . The Carolina Anole seemed a little embarrassed at the whole show in which a tiny caterpillar had tested its final reserves of strength.
Watching this encounter between lizard and insect left with something to chew on regarding the eating habits of the Carolina Anole: That it doesn’t eat junk food, and that it loves its greens.
A picky eater indeed!
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