Radios on Lizards!
Bowdleflode News No. 17 – October 2019
UK Wildlife Parks
Our favourite UK Wildlife Parks are constantly developing – not in the sense of laying down concrete, but developing more-and-more conservation efforts and methods, and in many different ways.
We often only concentrate on the big creatures like tigers and rhinos and snow leopards, but its very, very important to also think about worms and beetles and spiders and insects, because they all contribute to individual habitats.
We were fascinated by the story of the lizards below. It might be a lot to read but it’s a really good story of how even small creatures need (and can get) huge support and its a very important lesson for children to understand.
Of course, there are really good conservation efforts happening at lots of our favourite zoos and wildlife parks now. So, if you can find the time, please support them by visting them if you can, or if that’s too hard, visiting their websites. The lizard story involves Marwell, but Howletts, Port Lympne and Chester Zoo are all very well worth a visit.
Radios on Lizards!
The animal in the picture is a Northern European Sand Lizard. It is found all across northern Europe, but the Mediterranean countries are, by and large, too hot for it. It is a very small lizard. The longest ones are 190mm and weigh no more than 6 grams.
While it is found across Europe, it is becoming very rare because it is losing its habitat almost everywhere. It is currently categorised as ‘Threatened’. Scientists from Southampton University, in conjunction with Marwell Wildlife (that’s the same Marwell as the Zoo), have fitted radio transmitters to lots of these tiny lizards to track their movements and to help re-establish them, at a heathland site near Farnborough in Surrey in the UK.
The lizards are the favourite food of several predators, and they defend themselves by biting back and even by ‘dropping’ their tails which helps them get away!
As you can imagine, the radio tags that are attached are tiny. They weigh 0.29 grams and are fixed to the lizards using the same glue that is used in veterinary surgery and a small strip of surgical tape. The radio aerial runs along the back of the animal and they fall off after a short time, or when the lizard sheds its skin.
The 250 lizards that are being used for the experiment have been reared in captivity and the scienists are hoping to understand how far they go, how quickly and exactly how they use their habitat. The scientists already know from previous studies that the lizards won’t go back to areas that they used to occupy, even though the areas might have been made lizard-friendly since they left, so the only way of getting them back there is to reintroduce animals bred in captivity, which is a long slow process.
All sorts of wonderful things happen week by week in Wildlife Parks in the UK and across the world, and there are thousands of devoted people working endlessly to support wildlife.
There are also a few determined to benefit financially by using animal products and animal body parts and if the planet and its wonderful wildlife is to survive, this must stop.
Only public pressure can bring this about and that is why the efforts of people like Greta Thunberg are so vital.
The Bowdleflodes Wildlife Project…
is proud to be supporting schools and education settings on their Artsmark journey, inspiring children and young people to create, experience, and participate in great arts and culture.