Hummingbirds as Prey: Reptilian Appetites

Recently, I have seen several lizards and a couple of snakes in my backyard and was wondering if they were a threat to my hummingbirds.

This article identifies the reptiles that are preditors to hummingbirds, their eggs, and hatchlings.

What Reptiles Eat Hummingbirds?

Reptiles that eat hummingbirds include Green Anole lizards, Cuban Brown Anole Lizards, Western Fence Lizards, Vine snakes, Tree Snakes, Garter Snakes, Gopher Snakes, Rat Snakes, Frogs, and Giant Centipedes.
Some claim turtles and crocodiles eat hummingbirds, but there is no documentation supporting this claim.

Do Green Anole Lizards Eat Hummingbirds?

Adult hummingbirds are far too big to be eaten by Green anole lizards, but early hatchlings can be vulnerable. Green anole lizards are carnivores and require movement to be attracted to their prey.

Green anole lizards (Anolis carolinensis) are primarily insectivores and do not normally eat hummingbirds. Small insects such as ants, crickets, moths, and other arthropods make up the majority of their diet.

Green Anole Lizards are skilled hunters and capture small prey using their long, sticky tongues. Adult hummingbirds are not part of their diet. However, early hatchlings may be vulnerable.

Adult hummingbirds are larger, faster, and more agile flyers than the insects that green anoles typically consume. It would be unlikely for a green anole to successfully capture and eat an adult hummingbird.

Some documentation has shown Green anole lizards on hummingbird feeders in humid regions drinking the nectar. They show more of a desire to quench their thirst or gain some calories than to make a hummingbird their prey.

This Green anole is drinking nectar on a hummingbird feeder, but not eating a hummingbird. See video below:

Green Anole Lizards are more likely to eat a dragonfly than a hummingbird. See the video below:

Do Cuban Brown Anole Lizards Eat Hummingbirds?

While there is no documented evidence of a Cuban brown anole lizard capturing an adult hummingbird, they have the capability.
Hummingbird hatchlings or eggs are more vulnerable to being eaten by a Cuban brown anole lizard.

Cuban brown anole lizards (Anolis sagrei), also known as Brown anole, are primarily insectivores and do not usually eat hummingbirds, however, they have the potential. Small insects such as ants, beetles, flies, and other arthropods make up the majority of their diet.

While Cuban brown anole lizards are opportunistic feeders and eat a variety of small prey, it is not common for them to hunt hummingbirds.

If an opportunity presents itself, the Cuban brown anole lizard may attempt to catch a hummingbird, but such instances are very rare since hummingbirds are known for their rapid flight and agility, and are typically too large for the Cuban brown anole lizard to catch and consume.

Cuban brown anole lizards might attempt to catch a hummingbird, but such instances are very unlikely to succeed.

Do Western Fence Lizards Eat Hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are rarely eaten by insectivorous Western fence lizards.
However, if the opportunity arises, these lizards can manage to capture small birds, including fast-moving hummingbirds, even though this is uncommon.

Western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) also known as Blue belly lizards, are primarily insectivorous reptiles, and their diet consists mainly of small invertebrates such as insects, spiders, and other arthropods.

While they are not known to be regular predators of hummingbirds, they may occasionally consume eggs and hatchlings if the opportunity arises. However, it is quite rare for them to eat hummingbirds, as these lizards are more commonly associated with a diet of insects and small invertebrates that they can catch on the ground or in low vegetation.

Adult Hummingbirds are quick-moving creatures that are difficult for lizards to catch. Hummingbird predation by lizards typically does not pose a serious risk to them. They are more likely to be at risk from bigger predators like raptors or household cats.

Do Vine Snakes Eat Hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are not usually eaten by vine snakes, however, if the opportunity arises, they can eat hummingbirds, even though it is uncommon.

Vine snakes are slender, arboreal (tree-dwelling) snakes found in various parts of the world, including the United States.

Small vertebrates like frogs, lizards, and small birds, including the eggs and hatchlings of hummingbirds, make up their main diet. They don’t frequently prey on adult hummingbirds. Due to their excellent agility and swift flight, adult hummingbirds are challenging prey for snakes like vine snakes.

Hummingbird eggs and hatchlings are more vulnerable to being eaten by a vine snake.

A Vine snake can capture a hummingbird if the opportunity arises, however, it is not a common occurrence. Vine snakes are more likely to target prey that is easier to catch within their habitat, such as small reptiles and amphibians. Their slender bodies and cryptic coloration help them blend into their surroundings, making them efficient ambush predators.

While it is not impossible for a vine snake to capture and eat a hummingbird, it’s not a typical part of their diet.

Do Tree Snakes Eat Hummingbirds?

Tree snakes are opportunistic predators that eat adult hummingbirds, fledglings, hatchlings, and eggs. Hummingbirds are agile flyers, but they can still fall victim to tree snakes that are skilled at ambushing their prey.

Tree snakes, also known as arboreal snakes, are adapted to live in trees and are opportunist, preying and consuming small birds, including hummingbirds, their eggs, hatchlings, and fledglings as part of their diet.

Tree snakes use their camouflage and stealth to approach birds like hummingbirds while the bird is feeding on flower nectar, hovering near feeders, or eating insects.
Once the snake is close enough, it strikes quickly to capture the bird. Their venomous bites immobilize or kill the bird, allowing the snake to consume it.

Many tree snakes are indeed venomous, however, not all tree snakes are venomous.

Hummingbird nests, often located in trees or shrubs, can be vulnerable to predation by snakes, especially if the nests are not well-hidden or protected.

Tree snakes are adept climbers and can access nests located in elevated positions. They may consume hummingbird eggs and hatchlings if they find them unguarded or capture fledglings that are not yet skilled flyers. This predation can pose a threat to hummingbird populations, especially in regions where tree snakes are common.

It is important to note that not all tree snakes eat hummingbirds, as their diet can vary depending on the snake species and the availability of prey in their habitat. However, hummingbirds are among the potential prey items for many tree-dwelling snake species.

Do Garter Snakes Eat Hummingbirds?

Although it is uncommon, garter snakes can capture and eat hummingbirds.

Garter snakes are a group of slender, non-venomous snakes found in North America. 

They are generally harmless to humans and play a beneficial role in controlling pest populations by consuming insects and other small creatures.

They eat a range of food, including insects, small rodents, amphibians, and even small birds. As opportunistic hunters, garter snakes have occasionally been observed eating hummingbirds. However, hummingbird predation is an uncommon part of their habit.

Garter snakes are primarily terrestrial reptiles and are not known for their climbing abilities like some other snake species. They are more commonly found on the ground, in grassy areas, or near water sources. Therefore, they are not as likely to eat hummingbird eggs or hatchlings as it is not a common part of their diet.

Do Gopher Snakes Eat Hummingbirds?

Gopher snakes can capture and eat hummingbirds, however, they are least likely to prey on hummingbird eggs and hatchlings in a nest as they are ground-dwelling reptiles.

Gopher snakes (Pituophis catenifer) are non-venomous constrictor snakes native to North America. They are more commonly found in burrows, grasslands, deserts, and other terrestrial habitats where they hunt for prey on the ground.

Small animals like rodents make up the majority of their diet, with occasional reptiles and birds including hummingbirds. Gopher snakes, on the other hand, are more likely to prey on small animals, reptiles, slower-moving bird species, or bird species that lay their eggs in the ground.

Gopher snakes are primarily ground-dwelling snakes and are not known for their climbing abilities like other snake species. While they are capable of moving through vegetation and may occasionally climb low bushes or shrubs, they are not adept tree climbers that target hummingbird nests. Their adaptations are better suited for life on the ground rather than in trees.

Gopher snakes are opportunistic feeders and are known to raid nests for eggs, as well as capture and consume hatchlings however they will prey on a variety of nests found on or close to the ground, excluding hummingbird nests in trees.

While it’s not impossible for a gopher snake to capture and eat a hummingbird if the opportunity arises, it is not a common or typical part of their diet.

Do Rat Snakes Eat Hummingbirds?

Rat snakes can and do capture and eat hummingbirds, eggs, and hatchlings.
They are opportunistic feeders and will consume whatever prey is available.

Rat snakes are a diverse group of carnivorous non-venomous constrictor snakes found in North America.

Their primary diet consists of rodents, birds, bird eggs, frogs, and other small vertebrates. Their meals vary based on size, habitat, and the accessibility of other food sources.

Rat snakes are opportunistic feeders as several rat snake species have been observed eating adult hummingbirds, their eggs, and hatchlings. They are most likely to consume hummingbirds if given the chance, even though not all rat snakes will feed on hummingbirds.

Rat snakes are adept climbers, climbing trees with ease as they are found in a variety of habitats, including wooded areas, where they may climb trees in search of prey or shelter.

Their strong muscles and specialized scales allow them to grip rough surfaces like tree bark and move vertically. This climbing ability enables rat snakes to access bird nests, including those of hummingbirds, and hunt for birds, eggs, or other prey high up in trees.

Hummingbird nests, with their small size and delicate construction, can be vulnerable to snake predation. Rat snakes may climb trees or shrubs to access hummingbird nests and consume eggs or hatchlings if they come across them. This behavior can be a natural part of the snake’s diet as they seek out sources of protein.

Do Frogs Eat Hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds can be and are eaten by larger frogs however it is a rare occurrence and not part of their primary diet.

Frogs are carnivorous amphibians that primarily feed on insects and other small invertebrates. Some larger frog species may eat small vertebrates like mice, other frogs, and sometimes hummingbirds.

Frogs can be found in a variety of settings, including urban areas, grasslands, marshes, ponds, and rivers. Frogs typically have specialized adaptations for jumping, swimming, and living in moist environments. Their habitat preference is influenced by their species and life stage.

Some frog species, such as the tree frog are adapted with exceptional climbing abilities living in the tree canopies, while other species are ground-dwelling and better suited for terrestrial or aquatic environments.

Large powerful frogs, like the bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), are capable of catching and eating hummingbirds in places such as the state of Georgia.

Tropical locations are home to the green and black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus), which has been known to trap and eat small birds like hummingbirds.
However, it is often uncommon and not a staple of their diet.

Frogs are crucial players in many ecosystems as both predators and prey. Because they are sensitive to alterations in habitat and water quality, they are crucial in controlling insect populations and serve as environmental health indicators.

Do Giant Centipedes Eat Hummingbirds?

Adult hummingbirds, their eggs, and hatchlings can be and are eaten by Giant centipedes but are not the Giant centipede’s primary target.

Giant centipedes are a group of large arthropods belonging to the class Chilopoda.  They are opportunistic carnivorous predators with a diverse diet that primarily consists of small animals, including insects, spiders, small vertebrates, other centipedes, and worms.

While they have the capability to capture and eat small vertebrates like birds, it is less common for them to prey on hummingbirds, their eggs, and hatchlings.

They are known for their long, segmented bodies, numerous legs, and formidable predatory capabilities. They can be found in various habitats, including forests, caves, organic material, and sometimes in human-made structures.

Some Giant centipede species are adapted to arboreal (tree-dwelling) lifestyles, while others are ground-dwelling.

Those species that are able to climb and move through tree branches and other vegetation in their natural habitats use their many legs and powerful grabbing limbs to pursue insects, spiders, and other small birds, including hummingbirds.

Hummingbird eggs and hatchlings are not their primary target of food and such instances are relatively rare. However, if a giant centipede encounters a hummingbird nest or a vulnerable hatchling, it will attempt to feed on them.

Giant centipedes are venomous predators and will immobilize and digest their prey. While their venom is not usually harmful to humans, it can cause localized pain, swelling, and discomfort.

Their diet plays a vital role in controlling insect and small animal populations in their respective habitats.

Check out my other posts on Hummingbird Questions

Happy Reptile-Free Hummingbird Watching!

Elizabeth Donaldson

Hi Everyone! I have always loved our backyard and have been fascinated with all the wildlife living there. I am especially amazed by the skill, strength, and beauty of hummingbirds. I hope this article answered your questions.

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