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Lizard Eating Plant
Tropical pitcher plants are the kings of the carnivorous plants in the world. 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, occurring around Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Sumatra. There are more than 150 different species of tropical pitcher plants and each shows the dark side of mother nature’s revenge against small mammals and insects. The largest tropical pitcher plant to date is ‘Nepenthes Rajah’. Nepenthes means a plant of a genus that consists of the Old World pitcher plants.
Although these plants are beautiful and create some of the most amazing looking flowers that are completely harmless, the fact that the flower was created from all the nutrients it captured from the prey it devoured is scary. Growing one of these royal carnivorous plants in your own yard means setting up a death trap for any small critters nearby. In Lakeland Florida, the Nepenthes Miranda species is known for catching one particular prey far more often than any other insect and bug. Although this prey may be able to escape most of the time, it has been seen on YouTube, books and photography that this prey can indeed drown and become plant dinner if it falls into a large trap, which happens all too often in Lakeland Florida.
Anole lizards appear to play an important role in any Nepenthes diet in Lakeland Florida. These lizards are everywhere and have become the main dish to a meal plan unaware. It is really sad to see that these anole lizards have become part of a plant source of protein; they don’t seem to get a break at all. Not only cats eat them, birds, large insects, Fish and other reptiles like Frogs and Toads will gobble up these lizards and now we are adding plants as their enemies now?! With over a billion of these lizards in the state of Florida, there are plenty to go around.
So how are they caught? It is very simple and somewhat different from how the insects are caught. Let’s first explain the difference. Insects fall victim to the Nepenthes pitcher plants for 2 main reasons; because of the color of the plant & because of the nectar of the plant. Nepenthes pitcher plants create colorful leaves and traps that catch the attention of hungry bugs and insects passing by. The leaves resemble delicious fruit and the nectar that the plant releases around the traps lip seals the deal and tricks the insects into thinking it’s a free meal for free. The insect will land on the lip and start sucking the nectar from the plant but little do they know that the nectar is drugged. Almost like a person drinking beer or vodka, drink too much and it’s over. The lip of the traps is also slippery, designed so that prey could fall into the trap when they became sad and could no longer hold on to the slippery surface. Once at the bottom, they drown in the pool of digestive juices and then the plant will begin the breakdown of the soft parts of the insects and suck it up through its glands.
The capture process is similar to anole lizards; The lizards are attracted to the smell of the delicious nectar and start licking it off the lip but that doesn’t seal the deal as quickly as it does with insects. In the state of Florida, it can be very hot during the summer months and it is not always easy for lizards to find drinking water. They become tempted to push their luck by climbing inside the jars and making their way to the digestive juices to drink; after all, drinking from a lake of drowned and digested insects is better than not drinking at all. Some lizards hide inside pitcher plants from other predators or find insects still alive inside a pitcher trap and try to catch and eat it. The problem with this is that the lizard is more and more likely to fall into the liquid and if he is lucky, he can swim and climb his way out, but if he can’t get out and will be exhausted from the failed attempts to escape, then he will. drown and become dinner. This happens all too often for pitcher plants in Florida. Some throwers may catch more lizards than they can digest, resulting in the trap rotting away.
Insect meals can take about 3 weeks to fully digest while anole lizards can take up to 2-3 months before leaving nothing but lizard bones at the bottom of a crunchy plant trap. A pitcher 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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