Cactus Wildlife

Here’s a page devoted to the wonderful world of cactus wildlife! At Freaky Cacti’s nursery in Spain, we’ve embarked on a fascinating journey to document the unique creatures that inhabit our cactus garden and greenhouses. We’ve found ourselves captivated by the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in such places, and we believe many of our readers will be intrigued as well!

Our nursery is nestled in a vibrant ecosystem, a microcosm of the rich biodiversity that characterises Catalunya. This ecosystem is home to a variety of creatures, from the smallest insects to bats, birds, lizards and snakes. Our aim with this page is to provide a glimpse into this diverse world and to inspire awe and appreciation for the natural world that surrounds us. With this in mind, we’ve gathered a collection of photographs and descriptions of these creatures, each unique and fascinating in its own way. These images and descriptions offer a window into the lives of these creatures, revealing their behaviours, habitats, and the intricate web of life that they are a part of.

We invite you to join us on this journey of discovery. Whether you’re a seasoned naturalist or a curious beginner, we believe that you’ll find these insights into the creatures of our nursery enlightening and inspiring!


Cactus Wildlife We’ve Found Around Trichocereus and Other Species

Grasshopper sitting on a Trichocereus shaferi cactus

Crickets and Grasshoppers

Crickets and grasshoppers are both insect members of the order Orthoptera and share some similarities in their diet and behaviour. We’re not entirely sure which of these very similar-looking species lives here with us, so we thought it best to describe both for now!

Crickets are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods, including plant matter, other insects and even small animals. Grasshoppers, on the other hand, are primarily herbivores, feeding on plant stems, flowers and seeds. This means that it is possible that both crickets and grasshoppers might actually feed on cacti, given their omnivorous diets. Although we should state that we’ve not seen any obvious damaged caused by our own occasional visits from this weird and wonderful creatures!

Earwig on a garden wall

Earwigs

Earwigs are fascinating creatures that belong to the order Dermaptera, which includes about two-thousand species worldwide (split up into twelve families).

Found worldwide, earwigs are most common in warmer climates. They typically prefer moist environments (preferably incorporating decaying organic matter), such as forests, gardens – even houses. Earwigs play an important role in the ecosystems which they inhabit – both as predators and prey. However, in the home they tend to be considered pests, due to their habit of feeding on stored food. Besides damaging household items, earwigs can carry diseases, but are not known to bite or sting humans.

Earwigs are hermaphroditic and have a complex life cycle involving several stages of development. They’re also omnivorous, meaning they eat a variety of foods, including organic plant and animal matter of all sorts (living or dead).

A frog sitting by a Trichocereus cactus

Frogs and Toads

Frogs and toads are both amphibians and share many characteristics, but they also have distinct habitats due to their different lifestyles.

Frogs, on the other hand, are often found near bodies of water. They can live near calm, highly vegetated areas of large or small freshwater creeks, lakes, ponds and ponds. Frogs prefer calm areas of lakes which are generally found around the banks and in bayous, as well as man-made garden ponds. They can also live in muddy bogs, rainforests and even deserts (adapting to the harsh environment by burrowing in to the sand during the day).

In terms of their diet, frogs and toads have different feeding habits. Frogs tend to eat insects, such as crickets and flies, as well as small worms. Toads, on the other hand, have a more varied diet that includes grubs, insects, slugs and snails. This fact makes us end toward believing we have toads here at Freaky Cacti – especially given those pesky slugs and snails during the wetter months!

Ladybird on a Trichocereus cactus hybrid

Ladybirds

Ladybirds – also known as ladybugs – are small beetles that belong to the Coccinellidae family. They are characterised by their dome-shaped back and distinctive striped or spotted pattern. In Britain and many other English-speaking countries, they are known as ladybirds, while in North America, they are commonly referred to as ladybugs.

Their colourful markings serve a protective purpose, being designed to make them unappealing to predators. Ladybirds can secrete a fluid from joints in their legs that gives them a foul taste. This colouring is likely a reminder to any animals that have tried to eat their kind before: “I taste awful”.

In the wild, a ladybird lives between two and three years on average. They are mostly active during the day and can migrate long distances to hibernation and breeding sites, and areas with more food. In addition to their natural roles, ladybirds are also popular subjects in folklore, poetry (especially nursery rhyme) and religion.

Lizard on wall of house

Lizards

Lizards are a diverse group of scaly-skinned reptiles, known for their variety in body shape and size. They range from two-centimetres to three metres in length and weigh anywhere from roughly half a gram (or less) to more than one-hundred-and-fifty kilograms. Such creatures are usually distinguished from snakes by the possession of external ear openings, legs and movable eyelids, but some species lack one or more of these features. Lizards occupy a wide range of aboveground and underground habitats, where they subsist on a variety of arthropods. However, they’re most commonly omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plants and other animals.

Here’s a short introduction to several more common Spanish native species:

Boettger’s Wall Gecko: Abundant in coastal areas, Tarentola boettgeri lives under stones and is distinguishable by a small longitudinal clear band along the middle of its back.

Carbonell’s Wall Lizard: A small yet tough species from the west of the Iberian Peninsula and south of the Duero River, Podarcis carbonelli is a mostly white-bellied (with occasional pink or red tones) lizard.

Common Chameleon: One of the most famous lizards in – and the only chameleon species native to – Spain, Chamaeleo chamaeleon is best known for its camouflaging ability and the incredible length of its sticky, insect-harvesting tongue.

Common Wall Gecko: The common wall gecko has spiny skin and variable colouring, enabling it to blend in with rocky terrain. Its shape is typical of a gecko, with a large head, thin abdomen, and prominent, large toes.

Large Psammodromus: This lizard is characterised by its brown colouring on the back, with darker sides and a lighter belly. It is not abundant in the community but can be seen quite easily. The Large Psammodromus has a lot of natural enemies such as domestic cats and wild cats.

Western Green Lizard: This lizard is a common sight in Catalonia. It is known for its vibrant green colour and its habit of basking in the sun.

Western Three-Toed Skink: This lizard has many enemies because it is easy to catch. It’s a native species of the west of the Iberian Peninsula.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are both hermaphroditic members of the phylum Mollusca, which includes a wide range of organisms such as clams, octopuses and oysters. Within this phylum, snails and slugs belong to the class Gastropoda, characterised by a single, muscular foot and a distinct head that bears eyes and tentacles.

Both snails and slugs share many similarities in their anatomy and behaviour, including their method of movement using the foot and their feeding habits. Snails possess a protective shell, move at a slower pace, and have a more specialised herbivorous diet. Slugs, on the other hand, lack a shell, move more swiftly, and have a broader diet that includes both plant matter and decaying organic material. Most relevant to our own interests is the fact that both are fond of munching on cacti!

Spider on Trichocereus cactus pup

Spiders

Spiders, scientifically known as Araneae, are air-breathing arthropods with eight legs, fangs that can inject venom, and spinnerets that secrete silk (which they use to construct webs). They are one of the most diverse groups of arachnids and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. As of writing, there are just over fifty-thousand recognised spider species recorded, categorised into one-hundred-and-thirty-two families.

Interesting fact: Many spider species evolved from marine animals. Whatever their heritage, they’re all an important part of their respective ecosystems, helping to control pest populations and to recycle nutrients.


Why not improve your own cactus wildlife habitat? Browse our wide range of cactus species, hybrids, mutants and other forms.