Why do lizards eat spiders

Small spiders eat significantly larger lizards

Usually it is spiders that end up as a meal for amphibians and reptiles. But in an amazing reversal of roles, these spiders turn their potential predators into their next meal.

The jumping spider Phidippus regius is only twelve to 15 millimeters tall on average, but hunts frogs and lizards, which weigh three times their own weight.

It is the first time that scientists have recorded observations in a publication that jumping spiders - the largest family in the order of spiders - eat vertebrates.

"Many frog and lizard species are known to have spiders on their menu," said the study co-author and nature conservation biologist at the University of Basel, Martin Nyffeler, in an email.

"I am very impressed that there is a species of jumping spider that can kill and eat small frogs and lizards."

The one common in Florida Phidippus regius is one of the largest jumping spiders in the world. Presumably this gives her an advantage over animals like the Cuban tree frog, a resident of the Caribbean who has now also conquered the Sunshine State.

Nature blogger Loret Setters from Holopaw, Florida saw a Cuban tree frog caught in the clutches of a jumping spider.

“She stared at me like, 'You're next!'” Setters recalls. "I was completely stunned."

Hunger for frog legs

Nyffeler searched the internet for reports and photos of this strange phenomenon and found a total of eight incidents in seven Florida counties.

Another example comes from Jeff Hollenbeck, a hobby spider expert who is a female Phidippus regius who ate a red throat anole in Marion County.

Researchers suspect that the anole - a nimble, insect and spider-eating lizard - was up to two and a half times larger than its pursuer. However, he had nothing to counter the poison of the spider and the spiky trimmings on its forelegs.

"I was surprised ... But actually I really shouldn't have been," wrote Hollenbeck in an email.