Alligator lizards are exclusively carnivorous and prey on a diverse range of animals encompassing everything from crickets and snails to frog tadpoles, bird eggs and even other lizards and younger alligator lizards. They are voracious hunters who attack with their powerful jaws and use both their eyesight and their keen chemical sense to track and inspect prey before striking and devouring it.
Alligator lizards often prey on western skinks and other small reptiles with whom they share habitats. They are also known cannibals and make a regular habit of consuming juvenile and newly hatched alligator lizards, sometimes even their own young. In addition, they are thought by some researchers to seek out and consume bird eggs.
Insects and arthropods form a large percentage of the alligator lizard's diet. Spiders and scorpions are regularly preyed upon, while less dangerous insects like crickets, snails, sow bugs and centipedes are common fodder for the powerful lizard. Larvae and immature insect nymphs are also considered viable prey.
Alligator lizards shed their skins regularly and may also shed their tails if attacked or frightened. While shedding a tail may enable the lizard to escape a predator or rival, the lizard suffers during regrowth as the process of regeneration taxes its body severely.