A Failed Anole Predation Attempt

In the wake of the distressing news that even monkeys eat anoles with abandon, it’s a relief to see that there are at least some creatures that try to eat anoles, but fail. A 1979 report in The Wilson Bulletin by van Riper et al.  describing the the habits of the Red-Whiskered Bulbul in Hawaii, says this about these birds’ attempts at saurophagy:

On August 3rd 1977, a bulbul was observed chasing a large (ca. 20 cm in length) chamelion (Anolis sp.) in a circular pattern down an octopus tree; it was unsuccessful in capturing the reptile.

Such a vivid image, one that’s noteworthy for two reasons. First, while data on successful predation events are rare, descriptions of failed predation attempts are even rarer.  As bulbuls are mostly frugivorous, it isn’t too surprising that this lizard got away.

Second, like the battle between anoles and day geckos that we’re all eagerly anticipating, this interaction between two invasives, a New World lizard and an Old World bird, epitomizes the Anthropocene.

Red Whiskered Bulbul in southern India. Photo by adrashajoisa on Wikimedia.

Red Whiskered Bulbul in southern India. Photo by adrashajoisa on Wikimedia.

8 thoughts on “A Failed Anole Predation Attempt

  1. Thanks for the article Ambika, it’s very interesting. Actually, I’m working with a couple of colleagues in a natural history note about the predation attempt that a barbert failed against a large male A. woodi in Costa Rica (after an epic battle). The lizard did a brave display with its dewlap, in concordance with the Leal’s study (1999, Animal Behaviour) about honesting signalling during prey-predator in A. cristatelus, but in a real situation. Pura vida.

  2. We’ve seen bulbuls and mynahs carrying dead anoles, at least half a dozen cases just when walking to and from campus (U of Hawaii at Manoa). They are always female-sized sagrei.

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