Do Lizards eat other Lizards? (A Look at Cannibalism in Reptiles)

Lizards are fascinating creatures with a diverse range of behaviors and characteristics. From their unique physical features to their intriguing social structures, lizards have captured the interest of scientists and animal enthusiasts alike.

One of the most fascinating aspects of lizard behavior is their tendency to eat each other. Yes, you read that right! Cannibalism is not uncommon in certain species of lizards, and it can occur for various reasons such as competition for resources, territory, or access to females.

But why do some lizards eat each other lizards? What types of lizards are more prone to this behavior? And is it something to be concerned about if you’re considering keeping a pet lizard?

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of lizards eating each other in more detail, and provide you with the information you need to better understand this intriguing aspect of lizard behavior. So, buckle up and get ready to delve into the fascinating world of lizard cannibalism!

Do Lizards Eat Other Lizards?

The short answer is yes, some lizards do eat each other, but it’s not a common occurrence.

There are various reasons why lizards may resort to cannibalism. In some species, such as the green anole, males may eat smaller females during mating season as a way to increase their own chances of reproducing. Other times, lizards may eat their own species as a way to defend their territory or to eliminate competition for resources. However, this behavior is not exclusive to lizards and can be observed in other reptiles and animals as well.

Types of Lizards That Eat Other Lizards

While not all lizards are cannibalistic, there are several species that are known to prey on their own kind. Here are some of the most common types of lizards that eat each other:

Green Anoles

Green anoles, also known as Carolina anoles, are native to the southeastern United States. These lizards are known to be territorial and will defend their space against other lizards, including their own species. When food is scarce, green anoles have been known to resort to cannibalism, consuming smaller or weaker members of their own species.

Research has shown that green anoles may also engage in cannibalism as a way to reduce competition for resources. In some cases, larger green anoles have been observed eating smaller ones in order to eliminate potential rivals for food and mates.

Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are popular pets due to their docile nature and unique appearance. However, they are also known to be cannibalistic, particularly when housed together in captivity.

Monitor Lizards

Monitor lizards are large, carnivorous lizards found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. They are known to eat a variety of prey, including other lizards.

Gila Monsters

Gila monsters are venomous lizards found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. These lizards are known for their bright colors and distinctive patterns, but they are also known for their cannibalistic tendencies.

While Gila monsters primarily feed on small mammals and reptiles, they have been known to eat other Gila monsters as well. This behavior is most commonly observed during the breeding season when males may fight over females or territory. In some cases, a male Gila monster may even eat a female after mating.

Komodo Dragons

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world and are found only on a few islands in Indonesia. These lizards are known for their powerful jaws and venomous saliva, which they use to hunt and kill prey.

While Komodo dragons primarily feed on deer, pigs, and other large animals, they have been known to eat other Komodo dragons as well. This behavior is most commonly observed in younger dragons, who may prey on smaller or weaker members of their own species. However, adult Komodo dragons have also been known to engage in cannibalism, particularly when food is scarce.

Reasons Why Lizards Eat Each Other Lizards

It may come as a surprise, but lizards are known to eat each other. This behavior is not uncommon among many species of lizards, and there are several reasons why it happens.

Competition for Resources

Cannibalism in lizards can arise when there is a high population density and a scarcity of resources. You may observe lizards resorting to cannibalism as a way to eliminate competition for food, space, and other essential resources. This behavior is seen in species like the Aegean wall lizard, where the large male consumes a smaller rival in order to enhance his chances of survival and reproduction.

Territorial Disputes

As a lizard owner, you might notice that territorial conflicts can trigger cannibalistic behaviors. When a younger lizard tries to enter the territory of an older or more dominant individual, it may be captured, killed, and consumed. This behavior has been documented in garden lizards and aims to maintain territory dominance.

Mating Season

During the mating season, male lizards may engage in cannibalism to increase their chances of reproducing. For example, in green anoles, males have been known to eat smaller females as a strategy to ensure their genetic material is passed on to future generations. This can be seen as a ruthless way to remove potential mates for rival males and secure their own reproductive success.


While courtship is a typical aspect of lizard behavior, you may have heard about how it can turn aggressive and lead to cannibalism. In some cases, what starts as courtship between lizards escalates to violence and results in one lizard consuming the other. It’s essential to keep an eye on your lizards during this time and be aware of the potential for cannibalistic behavior source.

In conclusion, observe your lizards for any signs of cannibalism and take steps to minimize triggers such as competition for resources and territorial disputes in their environment. Be cautious during mating and courtship periods, as this can also result in cannibalism among certain species.

Cannibalism as a Survival Tactic

Benefits of Cannibalism for Lizards

Cannibalism is a common behavior in many species of lizards. While it may sound gruesome, it can actually provide several benefits for the lizards that engage in it. One of the main benefits is that it can help lizards survive in environments where food is scarce. When prey is hard to come by, lizards may turn to eating other lizards to ensure they get the nutrients they need to survive. Another benefit of cannibalism is that it can help regulate the population of lizards in a given area. By eating weaker or sickly members of their own species, stronger lizards can help ensure that only the healthiest individuals survive and reproduce. This can help prevent overpopulation and ensure that the ecosystem remains in balance.

Cannibalistic Behavior in Juvenile Lizards

Cannibalism is especially common among juvenile lizards. This is because young lizards are often more vulnerable to predation and have a harder time finding food. By eating other lizards, they can ensure they get the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly. While it may seem cruel, cannibalism is actually a natural behavior for many species of lizards. It can provide several important benefits and help ensure the survival of the species in challenging environments. However, it’s important to note that not all lizards engage in cannibalism and it’s not always necessary for their survival. Overall, cannibalism is just one of the many fascinating behaviors that make lizards such interesting creatures to study and observe in the wild.

How to Prevent Cannibalism in Captive Lizards

Housing Lizards Separately

One of the most effective ways to prevent cannibalism in captive lizards is to house them separately. This means providing each lizard with its own enclosure, which should be large enough to allow the lizard to move around freely. If you have multiple lizards, make sure to keep them in separate enclosures to prevent any aggression or territorial disputes.

Providing Enough Food and Water

Another important factor in preventing cannibalism in captive lizards is to provide them with enough food and water. Lizards that are not properly fed or hydrated may become more aggressive and may turn to cannibalism as a way to survive. Make sure to provide your lizards with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs, and always make sure they have access to clean water.

Reducing Stress in Lizards

Stress is a major contributor to cannibalism in captive lizards. Lizards that are stressed may become more aggressive and may turn to cannibalism as a way to cope. To reduce stress in your lizards, make sure to provide them with a comfortable and safe environment. This includes providing them with plenty of hiding places, proper lighting and temperature, and a clean and well-maintained enclosure.

In summary, preventing cannibalism in captive lizards requires proper housing, nutrition, and stress reduction. By providing your lizards with a comfortable and safe environment, you can help ensure that they live happy and healthy lives.

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