Unlucky Lizard Takes The Record For Largest Poop-To-Body Ratio

A CT scan revealed an unlucky lizard was carrying something far more grim than eggs. Edward Stanley/Florida Museum of Natural History

Rachael Funnell 04 May 2020, 18:26

The cautionary saying “you are what you eat” has seldom been proven to be true, that was until one lizard crossed paths with a team of biologists in Florida, as published in the journal the Herpetological Review. A CT scan revealed that the bodacious reptile, who was initially thought to be with egg, was in fact walking around with a whopping fecal bolus made up of her unusual diet of bugs, sand, and pizza grease.

Curly-tailed lizards, Leiocephalus carinatus, are famous omnivores snacking on just about anything that moves and several things that don’t. The team found the lizard while taking samples at Florida’s Cocoa Beach, and later discovered the lizard had been dining on some pizza grease from a local restaurant, munching down the human food stuff along with the sand it had sunk into. The less-than-optimum diet was subsidized with some insects, a more conventional snack for curly-tailed lizards.

The adult female curly-tailed lizard with a distended belly.Natalie Claunch

When the team first came across the rotund lizard, they checked her for eggs but instead found a singular, enormous putty-like mass. On closer inspection with a CT scan, it was revealed that the lump was an enormous fecal bolus (fancy speak for ball of poop), which accounted for 78.5 percent of the poor lizard’s entire body mass.

The discovery tops previous records for constipated reptiles, the title for which was previously held by a Burmese python who had a bolus that constituted 13 percent of its body mass. The record-breaking discovery is, however, a tragic one, as it’s likely the lizard was in a lot of discomfort. Unable to pass the enormous bolus, the animal was euthanized and, according to the paper, a post-mortem dissection revealed her “internal organs had visibly atrophied, notably the liver and ovaries.”

Curly-tailed lizards are known to produce abnormally large poops owing to their omnivorous diets.Natalie Claunch

The discovery was an accidental finding made when the team were investigating curly-tailed lizards, who aren’t endemic to the region, to find out what makes an invasive species successful. Unfortunately, this means any discovered and caught species can’t be released back into the wild as they pose a threat to the local ecosystem.

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