Wild Jobs: Collared-Lizard Researcher Amy Conley

By Matt Seek | April 1, 2012
From Xplor: April/May 2012

Collared-lizard researcher Amy Conley snares skittish reptiles with a lasso of dental floss.

Q: You lasso lizards with dental floss. Really?

A: Really. I make a noose with the floss, tie it to the end of a fishing pole, then inch the loop over a lizard’s head. Wind blows the lasso a bit, but most lizards stay put because it’s just floss swinging around.

Q: Lassoing lizards sounds fun.

A: It’s like fishing and hunting mixed together. It’s the best part of my job.

Q: So what’s the worst part?

A: Working on a glade in the summer can be blazing hot, but ticks are the worst. I never leave home without duct tape for pulling tiny ticks off my clothes and skin.

Q: What do you do with a lizard after you catch it?

A: I measure and weigh it, take a tissue sample, and paint a number and some marks on the lizard. That way I can tell one from another at a distance.

Q: Do collared lizards bite?

A: Yes, but their teeth aren’t sharp. When an adult grabs you, it hurts, but you bruise more than bleed. I let baby lizards clamp down on my ears then wear them as living earrings. It’s a rite of passage for lizard researchers.

Q: What do you hope to learn?

A: To most people, all glades look the same. But to a collared lizard, some glades are better than others. I’m trying to nail down what habitat pieces make one glade more appealing than another.

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This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White
Kipp Woods