Coluber constrictor priapus, the Southern black racer,
and Anolis sagrei, the Cuban brown anole;
Volusia county, Florida (21 September 2019).
Learn more about these species at iNaturalist.org:
Southern black racer & Cuban brown anole.
So what’s going on here and how did I end up with these two in my hands?
This was an unexpected encounter.
I was walking to a convenience store earlier today in downtown Daytona Beach to pick up a Dr. Pepper. Turning a sidewalk corner to the store’s parking lot, I spotted the tail-end of a racer wiggling about from under some leaf cover. Knowing immediately it was a juvenile racer, I reached down and snagged it. I didn’t have my Nikon with me, but, hey, the iPhone can take some snazzy shots, too…
Raising the snake up, I then spotted a Cuban brown anole locked in the serpent’s bite, and the racer also locked in the biting grip of the lizard. They were indeed locked together, but I’m pretty sure we all know who was hunting who. Cuban brown anoles may be non-naive, but you won’t hear the racers complain about them. Brown anoles are easy pickings for young racers itching to grow up and upscale their diets.
Anyhow, I figured both reptiles would let go of each other because of my sudden, accidental, and jarring intervention to their combat. The anole did let go, but the racer most certainly did not. Instead, the racer swiveled around and locked on to the anole even tighter. Rather than trying to flee the big hominid with the magic “iPhone” box, the snake took advantage of the situation and truly went for the kill — which didn’t take much time at all — right on my hand.
While the poor anole panicked by my intervention, the racer was wholly unfazed. The snake started to pivot to the anole’s head (ready to consume its snack). About that time, with the dead anole’s head in the racer’s mouth, I let them both go (one eating, the other recently-deceased and being eaten) at the edge of the parking lot. I didn’t want the racer quitting at this point… Let the anole’s life (and death) count!
Anyhow, a general (fallacy-prone) inference I’ll carry with me after this encounter:
Young Cuban brown anoles are more cowardly
than young Southern black racers