X Rays and Anoles

An exciting week in the Revell Lab, we received our order of 20 poles from Cabelas, and I picked up our new custom portable x-ray system in Newark yesterday.

The use of x-ray technology has been mentioned previously in AA- here, here , here, here, and here. The Losos Lab has used a similar portable x-ray system for the last several years with great success, and so we have obtained our own unit. One of the great advantages of these systems is that they allow researchers to gather highly detailed morphological data without harming the lizards and without using tedious methods such as dissection. The animals are simply anesthetized, imaged, and released after recovery. The Revell Lab has grand aspirations for our system- our graduate student Kristin Winchell plans to use it this summer in her studies of Anolis urban ecology.

The system is fairly simple and easy to use. Below is a picture of the setup, which includes an x-ray source (above) and a digital detector plate (below). A 40 degree beam is produced when the source is engaged from a remote control system consisting of a control box, power supply, and control software on a laptop. At 9.6 x 7.7 inches, our PaxScan detector plate is large enough to image even the crown giants.


Below is an example of an (anesthetized) adult male A. cristatellus, an animal that was born in captivity at Harvard and now resides comfortably at UMass Boston. In fact, as Liam observed, today’s photo session was probably the most excitement he has had in quite a while!



Finally, the best feature of this system is that it all packs neatly into a Pelican case:

About Graham Reynolds

Graham is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Asheville. His research focuses on Caribbean herpetology- specifically anoles and boas.

7 thoughts on “X Rays and Anoles

  1. Hi. I wish to know what are you using to anesthetize the anoles. I need to get them sleep because we want to cut a little portion of the claw without clipping the toe. I’m working with some little anoles like A. fuscoauratus and A. trachyderma here in Yasuní National Park-Ecuador.

    Please, I’ll be glad if you can help me.


    1. Hi Jonathan.

      Thanks. Do you know how much it cost and also does it has to be injected into the anole?

  2. Andres,
    I recently purchased a 100 ml bottle for $25. It may be more expensive in Ecuador due to shipping costs. The way you use it is to wet a cotton ball with it and place a lizard and the cotton ball into a closed container. You watch the lizard carefully to note when it is knocked out.

  3. Hi Graham,

    I am interested in what kind of portable x-ray system you are using. I am looking for one myself to assess presence/quantity of eggs in small reptiles while in the field. Any help or tips would be appreciated . Thanks!

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