The question of whether lizards possess a sense of taste and are able to use it to discriminate between prey items has been debated in the literature for several decades. This study provides evidence that some lizards indeed do use gustation to discriminate between prey items. In laboratory choice experiments, the lizard Anolis carolinensis discriminated between untreated crickets and crickets treated with either dextrose/aspartame powder (produces sweet sensation in humans) or quinine hydrochloride (QHCl) solution or powder (bitter sensation in humans). Although some of the lizards showed a strong preference for crickets treated with dextrose/aspartame powder, all lizards generally avoided prey items treated with QHCl. This avoidance is not affected when access to the vomeronasal organ is blocked. During this study, lizards readily associated taste with color.
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Vol. 2001 • No. 2