Energy costs of subduing and swallowing prey for a lizard
Pough, F. Harvey
Andrews, Robin M.
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We measured the oxygen consumption (aerobic energy cost) and lactic acid production (anaerobic energy cost) of scincid lizards, Chalcides ocellatus, eating domestic crickets. Aerobic metabolism accounted for 90% or more of the total energy cost of subduing and swallowing prey. The time required to subdue and swallow a cricket was linearly correlated with oxygen consumption. Oxygen consumption increased as a power function of cricket mass, but the maximum size of crickets swallowed by the lizards was set by morphological rather than by energetic constraints. The energy cost of subduing and swallowing was 0.2-0.4% of the utilizable energy of the cricket eaten. Net energy gain per unit time spent subduing and swallowing prey (e/t) declined monotonically with increasing cricket mass. Because the energy cost of eating is trivial, the shape of the e/t curve is determined by the function relating prey mass to the time required for subduing and swallowing; the energy value of prey was proportional to prey mass, whereas the time required for subduing and swallowing increased faster than prey mass. The energy value of anthropods is so high, relative to the costs for a lizard of pursuring, subduing, and swallowing, that these costs can be ignored for most ecological purposes.