Scantlebags: A New Innovation for Anole Field Work

Scantlebags being used in the field.

When in the field, we often need to temporarily house many animals from multiple localities for a short period of time.  While doing this, we need to keep animals healthy and track collection sites during transportation.  Anole researchers have used a variety of techniques to bag and sort captured anoles and often  rely on commercial reptile bags, pillow cases or plastic bags.

Thanks to the ingenuity of Dan Scantlebury and his mother, the Glor Lab has another solution: Scantlebags.  Scantlebags are individually manufactured in Stone Mountain, GA to our precise specifications.  They are made from white ripstop cloth material that is machine washable.  By making our bags from white fabric we can also write specimen data directly on the bag with a sharpie.  Each Scantlebag has a zipper closure, allowing easy access to captured animals without completely opening the bag.  You’ll have to trust us when we say that dealing with zippers is much easier than trying to constantly tie and untie pillow cases.  Scantlebags come in sizes ranging from a few square inches (for small anoles and Sphaeros), up to bags that are about the size of a typical pillowcase (which can temporarily accomodate ~20 small anoles). Finally, each bag has a webbing strap in one corner which allows Scantlebags to be tied to a belt, where they are easily accessible but secure from accidental loss.  The strap is at the opposite end of the bag from the zipper opening because the anoles we work with tend to aggregate at the top of the bag and are less likely to escape when the bag is opened from the bottom.

How does everyone else secure animals in the field? Any ideas for Scantlebag improvements?  Let us know in the comments.

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About geneva

Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. I use a variety of evolutionary genetic approaches to ask questions about gene flow, adaptation and speciation.
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15 Responses to Scantlebags: A New Innovation for Anole Field Work

  1. scantlebury says:

    I should add the white, breathable fabric is crucial for working under the tropical sun for hours at a time. The bags reflect away a lot of the heat and the animals can survive without the use of ice. Plastic bags and delicups have the effect of a magnifying glass on a school yard anthill…

  2. marthamunoz says:

    Although the name at first conjured a different image in my brain, these look very useful! Where does one purchase Scantlebags?

  3. Yoel Stuart says:

    Several folks in our lab use these bags: (http://www.forestrysuppliers.com/product_pages/View_Catalog_Page.asp?mi=3135)
    They are white, breathable fabric like Scantlebags, they tie off at the top with string, and they have tags for labeling. Some care has to be taken with the tie-off so that the lizard doesn’t wriggle out.

    We then place the bags into a pillowcase which can be hung off a belt or backpack strap for safe transport. The webbing for individually strapping to a belt seems like a good idea but if you have to take the bags off your belt (say, to crawl into the best noosing position), seems easier to have all the bags in one bigger pillowcase that can be removed in one movement of the hand.

    • Rich Glor says:

      Having used both types of bags, I think the Scantlebags are far superior to the ones from Forestry Suppliers; a zipper is far easier to work and far less likely to lead to escaped lizards.

    • geneva says:

      I did have trouble with removing bags until I realized on our most recent trip that I could just slip off my belt with the bags still attached. When tied on to a webbing belt you can also wear bags across your chest like a bandolier (in all seriousness) which allows you to remove them quickly if you need to – we did some sampling from the branches of trees overhanging a river and often we had to jump in to catch an anole that had hit the water.

  4. ryanelogsdon says:

    As a relative newbie to anole biology, I’ve only been in the field once, but I can definitely vouch for the usefulness of Scantlebags. They remained super easy to use despite my novice and extreme clumsiness.

  5. gabriel gartner says:

    I have used something similar but with velcro sewed around the top of the bag. Perhaps cheaper manufacturing costs than using zippers. In addition, at least with snakes, there are fewer accidents with caught tails.

    • geneva says:

      That’s interesting. I’ve kept a few snakes in Scantlebags but never anything more than about 0.75m TL. Have you ever had trouble with snakes forcing their way out through the velco?

  6. cybokat says:

    I wouldn’t trust anything with a zipper regarding my little monsters. They are strong and if they want to get out, a zipper is not an obstacle. I’ve had them escape through the seams of Forestry suppliers’ bags before.
    Maybe a zipper that can be blocked by flipping its tongue backwards? (excuse bad command of english)

    • scantlebury says:

      Never had any cybotoid escape from a scantlebag… There’s no way they can be opened from the inside.

      • geneva says:

        I don’t think we’ve had anything escape from a properly closed scantlebag (have we?), including bigger anoles (baleatus, ricordii, etc).

  7. jerryhusak says:

    These look very useful! I used to use finer-mesh lingerie bags for holding and transporting lizards. They soften up after repeated washing, and even large lizards can’t get out of the zipper. However, I’ve been looking for a good alternative since they can be a little expensive and you get funny looks buying out a store’s entire stock of lingerie bags…

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