A secretive, nocturnal gecko, this terrestrial lizard moves between creosote bushes and desert sagebrush, piñon and juniper forests, to find prey—usually insects and spiders—at night. Of course, it has a peculiarity: it is one of the few reptiles that we can see hunting and eating scorpions.
How does a gecko catch a poisonous scorpion?
Despite the relatively tame appearance of western banded geckos, this predator feeds on venomous scorpions, and now a field study published in the March Biological Journal of the Linnean Society shows how its attack method is used to bring down such prey. dangerous without being harmed in the deadly duel.
In the video distributed by the university responsible for the study, you can see how the gecko bites the scorpion and violently moves its head and upper part of its body from side to side, hitting the scorpion against the ground, wall or any hard surface. nearby, in order to liquidate it.
“The behavior is so fast you can’t see what’s really going on,” says Rulon Clark, a biologist at San Diego State University. “[You] see the gecko lunge and then you see this crazy motion blur…it’s like trying to look at the wings of a hummingbird.”
In earlier work, researchers had documented clashes between western banded geckos ( Coleonyx variegatus ) and dune scorpions ( Smeringurus mesaensis) in the desert at night (along with harmless arthropods, such as field crickets and sand roaches, to compare).
Although the usual behavior of a gecko is to lunge, grab the prey with its mouth and chew it, in this case its strategy is completely different.
The fact that this species can achieve such physical turns is impressive , the authors note.
They do not know if this is a very common behavior among geckos, so more field research will be necessary.
Referencia: M. Whitford et al. Shaking things up: the unique feeding behaviour of western banded geckos when consuming scorpions. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Volume 135, March 2022, p. 533. doi: 10.1093/biolinnean/blab167.