Have you ever watched a Whiptail Lizard run from you at lightning speed and wondered how anything ever manages to catch and eat them? Well, I’m about to tell you.
One summer afternoon, I noticed a Western Patch-nosed Snake stretched out in the bare soil next to a walking path. She immediately continued on her way, stopping to poke her head into some burrows. Not having anything better to do, I sat down to watch her since she seemed unconcerned with my presence.
Suddenly she made a quick, violent thrust forward into a burrow. Did she catch something?
She quickly pulled out empty-handed, or rather, empty-mouthed. She tried an adjacent hole, immediately withdrawing with nothing, then moved on to the next hole.
She pulled out this time with a wiggling Whiptail Lizard. She barely had them by a foot, but was going for it anyway. As she pulled the lizard free of the burrow, she wrapped herself around them and began to kill her prey by constriction.
This was pretty difficult to watch; I love snakes, but I like lizards too. As the Croc-Hunter used to say though, “it’s nature’s way!” So the Patch-nosed got to finish her meal.
After she had swallowed, she wiped her face in the dirt, yawned, and began fishing around in the burrows again. Her behavior was identical to what she was doing when hunting the lizard.
Surely, she CANNOT be hunting for another lizard?!? That was a big meal for her, she can’t POSSIBLY hold another.
Or can she?
Within a minute she pulled another Whiptail Lizard from an adjacent burrow! She held this one properly, by the head, so it was over much faster.
Now she was finally done eating. The Patch-nosed slowly crawled up the hill to catch the last bit of sun.