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Keywords:

  • reptile;
  • western fence lizard;
  • Sceloporus occidentalis;
  • nutrition;
  • diet

Abstract

Little is known about the effects of different prey species on lizard growth. We conducted a 6-week study to determine the relative effects of prey species on growth parameters of hatchling western fence lizards, Sceloporus occidentalis. Lizards were fed house cricket nymphs, Acheta domesticus, or mealworm larvae, Tenebrio molitor. The effects of prey species on growth were determined by measuring prey consumption, gross conversion efficiency of food [gain in mass (g)/food consumed (g)], gain in mass, and gain in snout–vent length. Lizards grew well on both the prey species. However, lizards that fed on crickets consumed a significantly higher percentage of their body mass per day than those fed mealworms. Nevertheless, lizards that consumed mealworms ingested significantly more metabolizable energy, had significantly higher food conversion efficiencies, significantly higher daily gains in mass, and significantly greater total growth in mass than lizards that fed on crickets. Zoo Biol 27:181–187, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.