Food

During the first years that I have had lizards in the garden, I regularly fed them for fear of starvation. This appeared to be unnecessary. The result of this regular feeding is that the animals become very lazy. My experience is that they rather waited a few days for me to feed them some fat mealworms than to go hunting themselves. After I stopped feeding them regularly the lizards appeared to eat really everything: wood lice, earthworms, butterflies, spiders, caterpillars, snails and bumblebees. An extra treat are the flying ants in the summer! These last few years I have only fed them right after hibernation, in June, after the females laid their eggs and in early September before hibernation. When you have visitors it is a nice attraction to lure the lizards to the terrace with a few mealworms

Every morning after the lizards have been warmed up in the sun, they go in search of food. They climb high into the bushes and in the meantime sniff carefully under every leaf for moths or spiders they can devour. They also thoroughly search under dead leaves, between the tiles of the terrace, between the garden tools and under the window sills. When a prey is found it must be consumed rapidly, because taking away each otherís prey is a popular activity. While foraging they also lick dewdrops from the leaves. Of course, not every garden provides the same quantity of food. In a newly arranged garden insect life must develop and feeding will be necessary.

We can speed things up; by planting lots of native flowers and plants, such as wild chicory, mullein, red poppies, hemp agrimony, purple loosestrife etc. we will attract many insects. Herbs, such as lavender, thyme, rosemary, but especially oregano, attract lots of insects. But also a pond with bank vegetation, a substantial layer of dead leaves under the bushes and a pile of dead wood will provide good food supply. Last but not least: a compost pile is the summit of food supply. If set up properly a compost pile is odourless and contains an enormous amount of wood lice, worms, beetles, snails etc. You can find directions how to set up a compost pile in every garden book. I placed four poles in the ground interspaced at 1,5 meters and in between put up wire netting to allow lizards to climb through the wire and get access to the pile. Every day there are one or more lizards (or toads) active in or around this compost pile. The animals in the garden seem to eat all kinds of food they formerly refused to eat while living in the indoor terrarium, such as wood lice, snails, ground beetles and hairy caterpillars.

The ocellated lizards often catch fat bumblebees from the flowering thyme and rosemary plants and also devour snails, with or without shell. Ocellated lizards need to be fed regularly with for example locusts and super worms.