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Lizard Eating Plant
Tropical pitcher plants are the kings of the world’s carnivorous plants. They are the only carnivorous plants that can grow to large sizes large enough to swallow large insects to large rodents. Tropical pitcher plants are native to the old tropics and occur around Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Sumatra. There are more than 150 different species of tropical pitcher plants and each one shows the dark side of Mother Nature’s revenge on small mammals and insects. The largest tropical pitcher plant to date is “Nepenthes Rajah”. Nepenthes refers to a plant from the genus that includes Old World pitcher plants.
Although these plants are beautiful and produce some of the most amazing flowers that are completely harmless, the fact that the flower was created because of all the nutrients it took from the prey it devoured is terrifying. To grow one of these regal carnivorous plants in your own yard is to set a death trap for any small critters nearby. In Lakeland Florida, the Nepenthes Miranda species is known to capture one particular prey far more often than any insect or insect. Although this prey can potentially escape most of the time, it can be seen on YouTube, books and photos that this prey can actually drown and become a dinner plant if it gets caught in a large trap, which happens all too often in Lakeland Florida.
Anole lizards seem to play a major role in any Nepenthes diet in Lakeland Florida. These lizards are everywhere and have become a meal plan staple unwittingly. It’s really sad to see these anole lizards become part of a plant source of protein; they don’t seem to rest at all. Not only do cats feed on them, birds, large insects, fish and other reptiles such as frogs and toads will eat these lizards, and now we’re adding plants as their enemies?! With over a billion of these lizards in the state of Florida, there’s plenty to go around.
So how to catch them? It is very simple and somewhat different from the way insects are caught. First let’s explain the difference. Insects become victims of Nepenthes plants for 2 main reasons; because of the color of the plant & because of the nectar of the plant. Nepenthes pitchers produce colorful leaves and traps that attract the attention of hungry bugs and insects that pass by. The leaves look like tasty fruit, and the nectar the plant releases around the mouth trap seals the deal and tricks the insects into thinking it’s a free, no-cost meal. The insect will land on the lip and start sucking nectar from the plant, but little do they know that the nectar is drugged. Almost like a man who drinks beer or vodka, drinks too much and it’s over. The edges of the traps are also slippery, designed so that prey can fall inside the trap when they become stunned and can no longer hold on to the slippery surface. Once they fall to the bottom, they drown in a pool of digestive juices and then the plant will begin to break down the soft parts of the insects and suck them up with its glands.
The capture process is similar to anole lizards; Lizards are attracted to the smell of the delicious nectar and start licking it off their lips, but that doesn’t seal the deal as quickly as it does with insects. In the state of Florida during the summer months it can be very hot and it is not always easy for lizards to find water to drink. They are tempted to try their luck by climbing into the jugs and making their way to the digestive juices they drink; after all, it’s better to drink from a pool of drowned and digested insects than not to drink at all. Some lizards hide inside pitcher plants from other predators or find insects that are still alive inside the pitcher trap and try to catch and eat them. The problem with this is that the lizard will increasingly and likely fall into the liquid and if it is lucky, it may swim and make it out, but if it cannot get out and becomes exhausted from its failed attempts to escape, then it will drown and become dinner. This happens all too often to pitcher plant growers in Florida. Some pitchers can catch more lizards than they can digest, resulting in the trap rotting.
Insect meals can take about 3 weeks to fully digest, while anole lizards can take up to 2-3 months before only lizard bones remain at the bottom of the pitcher plant trap. A plant that eats nothing but reptiles can grow into a very large plant and if the plant gets the moisture, heat and lighting it needs, it can grow some very large traps (depending on the species).
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