From Xplor for Kids
April 2012 Issue

Wild Jobs: Collared-Lizard Researcher Amy Conley

Publish Date

Apr 01, 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.

Also in this issue

You Discover

April and May are Goldilocks months—not too hot nor too cold. Wildflowers pop up, songbirds migrate, and fish finally find their appetites. Here are just a few things to discover.

Predator vs. Prey: Bass vs. Crayfish

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

How To: Make a Turkey Call

In April and May, male turkeys gobble and show off to attract a mate. While their minds are preoccupied with finding girlfriends, gobblers can be lured in close by mimicking the sounds of a lovesick hen.

Giants of the Night

The moth flutters silently, mysteriously through the night. Her wings are impossibly large and glow green like an emerald in pale moonlight. She is a luna moth, named for the moon, for the night, and on this, her last evening on Earth, she’s searching for a place to lay her eggs.

The Adventures of Bionic Bird and Robo-Deer

Most hunters obey the law. When they don’t, conservation agents are pros at catching them. But to bust some poachers, conservation agents need a little help. That’s where we come in.

Strange But True

Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

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

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