The ability to identify the largest amount of prey available is fundamental for optimizing foraging behaviour in several species. To date, this cognitive skill has been observed in all vertebrate groups except reptiles. In this study we investigated the spontaneous ability of ruin lizards to select the larger amount of food items. In Experiment 1, lizards proved able to select the larger food item when presented with two alternatives differing in size (0.25, 0.50, 0.67 and 0.75 ratio). In Experiment 2 lizards presented with two groups of food items (1 versus 4, 2 versus 4, 2 versus 3 and 3 versus 4 items) were unable to select the larger group in any contrast. The lack of discrimination in the presence of multiple items represents an exception in numerical cognition studies, raising the question as to whether reptiles' quantitative abilities are different from those of other vertebrate groups.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3729907.
- Received November 14, 2016.
- Accepted March 21, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.