Snakes and Lizards: Squamata
Most of the squamates eat other animals. Many of the lizards and the smaller snake species eat insects or other invertebrates (in-VER-teh-brehts), which are animals without backbones. Even some of the medium-sized snakes eat invertebrates. Eastern garter snakes, for example, like to dine on earthworms. A large number of the medium- to large-sized snakes, however, eat other snakes, lizards, frogs and tadpoles, mammals and other vertebrates (VER-teh-brehts), which are animals with backbones. Boa constrictors, pythons, and other very large snakes sometimes eat calves, deer, and other big mammals. Monitor lizards, which can grow to 12 feet (3.7 meters) or longer, can also capture, kill, and eat large mammals, such as deer, monkeys, wild pigs, and even buffalo. They are also known to eat dead animals, or carrion (CARE-ee-yun), that they come across. Some species of squamates eat plants either in addition to or instead of meat. Many of the iguanas, for instance, eat flowers, fruits, and leaves.
All squamates shed their skin—actually just the outer layer—once a year. If a snake eats well and grows quickly, it may shed additional times. The lizards typically shed in small pieces, while the snakes usually shed in one piece that peels off inside out. Often, a shed snake skin still shows enough of the animal's patterns for a careful observer to identify the species that left it.
- Snakes and Lizards: Squamata - Behavior And Reproduction
- Snakes and Lizards: Squamata - Habitat
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