During mark-recapture studies and capturing lizards for radio telemetry, physically catching the lizard is (undoubtedly) the most important constituent of the study. To those who are not familiar with how these lizards are caught, it might seem a precarious task, given their size and speed. As flattering as it is that people put their faith in the idea that we capture lizards with our bare hands, although not impossible, this is not the case!
Above you can see a proper demonstration of how we actually capture lizards. In this image, team member Sereena Ginar has “noosed” a lizard, namely Sceloporus magister. Now the term “noosing” may seem harsh, but let it be known that this does not harm the lizard! Taking into account that a human hand and even a human approaching will send a lizard running in the opposite direction, we use a less startling tactic. Most lizards aren’t immediately frightened by the noose, in fact, some are intrigued. Oftentimes they’ll bite at the noose, perhaps mistaking it for an insect. The actual noose is tied in a slipknot at the end of a retractable fishing pole-like mechanism. Typically we use woven or nylon string, much like fishing line, but dental floss completes the task just as well! A lizard’s small mass prevents any kind of physical damage from ensuing, despite the noose tightening at the neck. The lizards aren’t left to dangle anyway; subsequent to capture, they are taken from the noose to be processed and released.
Although the lizard may not enjoy the noosing process, this is the safest and most practical way to capture and handle them. When holding the lizards with our hands, they can easily wriggle free if they feel any part of our grip weaken. It is helpful to keep a lizard in a noose when processing, so as to ensure they don’t escape too early! Hopefully this clears up any misconceptions of lizard noosing!