The History Of Lizard Noosing

Time honored anole field technique. But since when?

Here at AA, we’ve frequently discussed the art and practice of lizard noosing, such as posts on the best material to use to construct a noose, as well as the variety of suitable poles commercially available. Recently, I was asked a question for which I did not have an answer. To wit, what is the history of lizard noosing? Did our herpetological forebears use nooses? I’m aware that at least some herpetologists in the 70’s were doing so. What about earlier than that? Did Stan Rand noose lizards? Ernest Williams in his younger days? Barbour?

Everyone’s aware that when looking for information, if you can’t find it on Google, it’s not worth knowing. This, however, would seem to be an exception. Wikipedia has no entry on lizard noosing, nor does a Google search on the relevant terms turn up any answers (such a search does, however, turn up a plethora of websites and Youtube videos offering lizard noosing tutorials).  So, I put it to you, AA readers: who can enlighten us on the history of anole noosing?

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

8 thoughts on “The History Of Lizard Noosing

  1. I was noosing lizards in the Southern California deserts when I was a kid in the early 1970’s. I learned the technique from a somewhat older but not herpetologically well-connnected kid, so it seems like it was sort of common knowledge to lizard fans at least that far back.

    John

  2. Milstead was using a noose back in the early 1950’s when he was studying Cnemidophorus. However, he did note how difficult it was getting close enough to actually use it on those pesky whiptails.

  3. I think noosing lizards has been around a while. Dunn talks about noosing Sceloporus in a 1915 Copeia paper and Jospeh Grinnell’s 1907 Book “Reptiles of Los Angeles County, California” mentions noosing as the best means of catching lizards.
    Children have captured lizards with nooses for ages. Gerald Durrell mentions it repeatedly in his books and Wood’s “Illustrated Natural History” from 1863 mentions children catching Anolis with nooses. Indeed the statue Apollo Sauroctonus from 350-340 BC has been thought to be of a boy trying to noose a lizard.

  4. I learned to noose anoles (and other lizards) as a kid in 1957 from other kids in Jamaica. We made the noose from a coconut “straw,” the central rib of a coconut leaflet. You strip off the leaf portion and turn back the tip, then tie a simple knot in it. Stan Rand I used that method in Hispaniola, but quickly shifted to monofilament fish-line and fishing poles. I do not believe EEW ever noosed a lizard…. Skip

    1. My mother, nothing to do with biology or herpetology, taught me how to noose anoles back in the mid 1950s using the coconut “straw” and one long mane’s horse hair, a traditional way from Dominican country kids to catch anoles. It seems it has been around for many years.

  5. Not sure what this says about the history of noose technology or original function, but Amerindian children in Guyana showed me how to make a lizard noose out of a blade of grass. I suspect it’s been around for quite a while. After all, they are rather handy.

  6. Many generations of Bermuda’s youth (boys in particular) have been using grass seedheads (stripped of seeds) to make nooses. Back in the 80s one of my classmates received a long scratch to his cheek when a large A. leachi jumped onto his face after he had noosed it. He was so shocked that he never tried noosing another one again!

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