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We examined availability of soil invertebrates in Berlese samples in a Mediterranean locality in central Spain and compared availability with the actual diet of the amphisbaenian Blanus cinereus. Although a greater diversity of prey types was found beneath stones than elsewhere, the occurrence of B. cinereus under stones was not reflected in its diet. This species is somewhat opportunistic and mainly feeds on insect larvae and ants, which are the most abundant invertebrates. However, larvae of larger size are selected in higher proportion than their availability, and some of the genera of ants are not eaten. Compared to epigeal lizards, low numbers of prey items per stomach were found, suggesting relatively lower energy requirements. The absence of a correlation between predator and prey size, as well as the relationships between food availability and diet, suggests that B. cinereus selects scarce, energy-rich prey, probably requiring search efforts. In these circumstances, the energetically less favorable but more abundant prey would provide a more generalist diet.
Herpetologica © 1991 Herpetologists' League