During recent fieldwork with several graduate students, the topic of lizard noosing materials came up. I was accused of being an old fogey for my continued use of dental floss to make my nooses. By contrast, these young whippersnappers used some yellow stuff, pictured above. I can’t remember what it is, but it seems all the rage these days. I know that other people use various types of fishing line (I think the yellow stuff is one such type), and that everyone has their own preference. Of course, lizard noosing has doubtless been independently invented many times in various places around the world with all kinds of materials. I’ve seen local boys use blades of grass—quite effective!—in several places in the Caribbean, and once in Sri Lanka, I saw the locals using copper wire on a Calotes (not recommended). So, given all these options, what are the advantages and disadvantages of various noose materials?
I’ll make the old-timer’s case. Dental floss has the following advantages: first, it is cheap and readily available. Second, if your noose goes bad, it is easy to whip out your floss container, which comfortably resides in your pocket, and you can quickly make another. Third, waxed floss (don’t even think of unwaxed) holds the noose open reasonably well, at least for a while. When it stops doing so, it’s time for another noose. Fourth, floss generally hangs straight down from the pole, as opposed to having a memory for being coiled up and thus not hanging vertical.
Yes, it does wear out faster than other stuff, and that’s a nuisance. But you just make another noose, and that’s that. This can be a big advantage because some times you need to make a bigger or smaller noose when you encounter lizards of a different size, or when the wind picks up. In this case, the ease of making a new noose becomes a big asset. I’ve seen people stick with inappropriate nooses just because it’s so difficult to make a new one.
So, that’s why I’ve stuck with the floss all these years. I’d like to hear why others thing their newfangled stuff is superior.
p.s. One last note: you’d think mint floss, being green, would be less bothersome to the lizards, as well as smelling/tasting better. But don’t bother trying it: you can’t see it against a vegetated background.