Notes on the Diet and Foraging of Varanus griseus

Alexey Yu. Tsellarius, Elena Yu. Tsellarius, Yuri G. Men’shikov


Presented are the results of analysis of about 700 samples of excrements of Varanus griseus from various regions of sand deserts of Middle Asia. Described are the hunting methods for various kinds of prey, alterations of composition of diet and hunting behavior of V. griseus in conjunction with environmental conditions. V. griseus prefers to hunt for relatively large prey which are concentrated in certain places with distinct spatial and temporal order. The most important characteristic of prey is not a possibility to easy catch it, but possibility to find it with minimal expense of time and energy, i.e., predictableness of results of searching. The most suitable kind of prey are rodent Rhombomys opimus in sand desert, Vipera lebetina, and nests of some birds in river valleys. Lizards and arthropods are readily eaten, but intensive hunting for them was recorded under only circumstances of low abundance of rodents and/or snakes. A common pattern of hunting is the methodical inspection of places densely populated with potential preys. A strong deterioration of feed conditions leads to increase of mobility of V. griseus, spatial redistribution and, as a probable result, disintegration of socium.


Varanus griseus; foraging; diet; feeding behavior

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