Do Hawks Eat Lizards?

Hawks eat all sorts of animals ranging from small rodents and birds to scaly reptiles, amphibians, and even carcasses. And so, lizards are no exception. Hawks frequently eat lizards especially in deserts or arid regions.

We’re going to get into more detail about hawks and eating lizards

Here’s what you’re going to discover

  • Would a hawk eat a lizard?
  • How do hawks hunt a lizard?
  • Can lizards escape from hawks?
  • Are lizards toxic to hawks?
  • What kind of birds eat lizards?
  • What animals do hawks hunt?
  • Do hawks eat small pets?

So we got plenty to talk about!

Very interesting topics I’m sure you’re going to love

Sound good?

Let’s get started!

Would a Hawk Eat a Lizard?

Well, a hawk may eat a lizard simply because it just spotted it.

You see, lizards have patterned mud-colored and textured bodies which allow them to hide better.

Despite that, finding one is not so hard, chiefly because lizards are ectotherms.

And so, they need to bask in the sunlight to regulate their body temperatures.

Besides, most lizards stay near the ground and can only run as fast as 15mph.

Whereas an average hawk may exceed 100mph.

As you can see just from speed, lizards are relatively easier targets than other animals. 

Perhaps, hawks predate lizards out of convenience rather than actual hunger.

That said, there are about 5000 lizard species spread across the globe.

These can vary in size, ranging from 0.8-inch geckos to 3-meter-long monitor lizards.

Hence, whether a particular lizard is a hawk snack or its whole meal, may also depend on its size. 

Nevertheless, nesting hawks actively hunt for lizards, as they are not only easier but also faster to catch.

Did you know a hawk hatchling may eat about one-half of an iguana per day.

How Do Hawks Hunt a Lizard?

Typically, this starts with a hawk sitting on some tree and scanning for prey.

Once it catches a glimpse of the lizard, the hawk jump dives on the defenseless reptile.


It takes less than 5 seconds to grab and swallow a small lizard.

However, large lizards can weigh up to 300kg, with much harder and rougher skins.

And so, such lizards can resist being eaten.

Despite that, hungry hawks still prey on big lizards.

How so?  

Normally, a hawk will peck the whole reptile to locate some soft skin.

However, an experienced hawk starts by dipping its bill inside lizard ears, causing the victim to bleed.

Usually, the dizzy reptile then stops resisting.

The hawk then probes the lizard eye, effortlessly damaging its brain.  

The hawk then nibbles its way around, devouring the half-dead lizard.

Eventually, the hawk regurgitates out the undigested materials like scales and bones.

That sounds brutal even to the human imagination.

So if a lizard gets caught, is it possible for it to escape?

Let’s find out..

Can Lizards Escape From Hawks?

For a hawk, a lizard found is a lizard already eaten. 

Hawks may not hunt bigger lizards like bird-eating Komodo Dragons.

However, the smaller lizards can only use their tongues to catch flies.

Naturally, the survival of a lizard depends on its ability to hide.

This may involve:

  1. Having patterned skins and camouflaging as seen in chameleons.
  2. Using different activity hours e.g. nocturnal leopard geckos rarely cross paths with diurnal hawks.
  3. Detaching tail to create a diversion.
  4. Staying near crevices to avoid predator contact.
  5. Appearing bigger with horns or beard.

Interestingly, certain species of lizards are poisonous, but even that doesn’t stop a hawk. 

Talking about lizards being poisonous 

You may be thinking..

Are Lizards Toxic To Hawks?

Generally, consuming lizards is not dangerous for hawks at all. 

Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the plausible hazards:

1. Poisonous Lizards

Unlike salamanders or frogs, lizards don’t usually store poison from their prey.

However, certain lizards have poisonous skins, but their meat is fine to consume.

Since raptors rarely swallow lizard skins, therefore, such lizards don’t pose any threat to hawk health.

2. Lizard Venom

Lizards like Gila Monster and Bearded lizards produce venom.

Unlike snakes, the lizard venom is not injected through sophisticated fangs from the upper jaw.

Instead, lizard venom is released directly into saliva from subcutaneous glands within the lower mandible.

And so, this venom is concentrated in the lizard’s head.

Since hawks avoid eating lizard skulls, therefore, eating such lizards may not be harmful to hawks.

3. Secondary Poisoning

Consuming lizards that have ingested some rodenticide may cause secondary poisoning among hawks.

This has been mostly reported near agricultural areas.

4. Pathogens

Lizards may be carriers of diseases like aspergillosis, salmonellosis, trichomoniasis, or avian pox.

However, hawks only contract salmonella from lizards.

This may cause nausea, loose dropping, chills, or liver enlargement. 

Lizards have been reported to cause liver fluke in the avian intestines.

However, only limited research is available on such sick hawks.

Such evidence generally comes from the poultry industry.

What Kinds Of Birds Eat Lizards?

If a bird can overpower a lizard, it will likely swallow one. 

Since high order raptors can hunt the biggest of lizards, therefore, they are considered the primary lizard-eaters.

These include hawks, kites, owls, eagles, vultures, falcons, and ospreys. 

But lizards are widespread and quite the easy targets.

They are often found basking in the sunlight or sometimes in loose groups during the breeding season. 

Thus, nearly all birds eat either lizards or their eggs.

These birds range from budgies and chicken to woodpeckers and even ostriches.

Hah, and here you thought that Lizards had it easy.

Apart from lizards, hawks have several other animals on their menu.

Let’s find out what animals hawks hunt

What Animals Do Hawks Hunt?

A hawk’s diet primarily depends on its location and so, what is readily available.

How a hawk approaches a prey is also dependent on its type:

  1. The Accipiters or woodland hawks like Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) have short-rounded wings and long tails. This allows them swift movements around trees permitting these hawks to have a variety of prey available. 

And so, these regard lizards as snacks rather than whole meals. 

  1. The Buteos like red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) have broad wings but short tails to allow them to soar for hours. Such hawks tend to live in open areas with a relatively limited variety of prey. Therefore, they actively hunt for lizards as their daily meal.

That said, a hawk will eat almost anything. 

Some hawk species are better suited for certain prey.

For instance, Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) specialize in is hunting small birds.

Meanwhile, Roadside Hawks (Rupornis magnirostris) prey along the highways.

The most common hawk prey include:

  1. Insects such as grasshoppers, roaches, and beetles.
  2. Amphibians such as toads, frogs, and salamanders.  
  3. Reptiles like turtles, snakes, and lizards.
  4. Birds including titmice, chickadees, jays, starlings, doves, cardinals, pigeons, sparrows as well as ducks and chickens.
  5. Marine species including crustaceans and fish e.g. carps, catfish.
  6. Small mammals like rodents, rabbits, bats, raccoons, squirrels. 
  7. Carcass especially fresh road kills

But you may be more concerned about small pets 

Do Hawks Eat Small Pets?

They certainly do.

You see, hawks are opportunistic predators.

And so, small pets are just caged treats.


If given a chance, a hawk will eat budgies, cockatoos, lovebirds, and even canaries.

They often eat farm ducks and chickens.

But their favorite spots are backyard bird feeders where they can enjoy eating titmouse, jays, finches, and even woodpeckers. 

A hawk would not hesitate from hunting a small pet just because it’s cute. 

And so, hamsters, rabbits, turtles, and iguanas are also just some delicacies. 

Hawks also hunt cats and dogs.

While kittens and pups are easy prey, a hungry hawk may even hunt large dogs.

Usually, a hawk will tear the dog’s abdomen to remove its intestines.

This way it can carry its prize easily. 

Though such cases are rare, I advise you to keep your pets indoors if you spot a hawk nearby. 


Hawks eat lizards as well as several other animals.

Lizards are easier to catch but some may contain pathogens.

Most hawks tend to avoid eating lizard skins and heads to prevent toxicity.

Apart from hawks, nearly all birds hunt lizards.

Regardless, the hawk diet is not limited to lizards or wild animals.

If an opportunity presents itself, a hawk will eventually eat a small pet.

Related articles

Do hawks eat rabbits? 

Do hawks eat rattlesnakes?

Do hawks eat crows? 

Do hawks eat owls? 

Can a hawk pick up a dog?

Do hawks eat foxes?

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