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.

Western patch-nosed snake (Salvadora hexalepis)

On my way home from work, I noticed a western patch-nosed snake stretched out in the bare soil next to the walking path. She immediately continued on her way, stopping to poke her head in 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 the 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 on to the next hole.

SUCCESS!

She pulled out this time with a wiggling whiptail lizard. She barely had it by a foot, but was going for it anyway. As she pulled the lizard free of the burrow, she wrapped herself around it and began to kill her prey by constricting.

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 patchnose 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 had this one, properly, by the head, so it was over much faster.

Now she was finally done eating. The patchnose slowly crawled up the hill to catch the last bit of sun.

You can view a few more photos of the feeding event here.