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Last sync:2023-01-31 01:45
Jessi shows how she handles and works with Leonard the Russian Legless Lizard, aka European Legless Lizard, aka glass lizard. They're not an easy species to handle, but Jessi shares some tips to keep them safely held.

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Hi, guys!

I'm Jessie! I'm with Leonard the legless lizard here, and we're at Animal Wonders.

Today I'd like to talk to you about and show you what it's like working with a Russian or European legless lizard. [intro music] This particular species of legless lizard isn't known for being calm, and so when you're working with them you have to take certain precautions. When I go into his enclosure, he'll become defensive and sometimes he'll try and bite me if I'm not careful. They also have this really neat way of moving when they think that they're captured by a predator.

They do a rolling of the body, and so I have to be prepared to let him do that movement so that I don't accidentally hurt him. All right, here we go! Go on in.

Hey, buddy! Let him know I'm here. He can hear me.

He can hear the change in pressure in there and feel it. So what I like to use is a spatula, and I'm going ot just use it to block his head so that if he does defensively strike at me it doesn't go after my hand. I'm going to reach right behind his head, so I'm gonna block his head here.

I know, buddy. And I'm going to reach right behind his head and get his body, and then you'll see I'm going to let him do his natural body rolling and movement. I'm going to kind of ignore his tail and just support, kind of his neck chest area.

And then back here just his body, his back, very very end of his body and the base of his tail, and I'm not gonna do anything but just hold still until he realizes that I am not going to hurt him. Not a predator. We're all good here bud.

If I were to restrain him completely, hold down on him, he would try really hard to do this rolling behavior, and he could hurt his body, but if I were to hold his tail, that rolling movement would actually twist his tail off, and it is designed to break off in one or several pieces. That's a defensive mechanism that he has to survive in the wild, and I do not want to cause that to happen when I handle him. All right guys, you can see that he has calmed down on his own.

Because I didn't continue to move around, he realized "Oh, I'm not dying. I'm not being eaten. This is actually okay." Taking him out like this you can see it is stressful on him, so I only take him out tops two times a month.

The reason I don't take him out more than that is because it is stressful. The reason I don't take him out less than that or continue to handle him, even though it is stressful, is because it's really important for me to be able to get hands-on with him and check his body to make sure he's healthy. Also the more I take him out, the more desensitized he becomes to me handling him and the easier it will become.

So as long as I don't move from this position, he's gonna stay nice as calm, but it would be nice to get him used to me moving just a little bit and that's going to further his desensitization. So I'm going to move just a little bit, and hopefully he won't react at all. [moves him] Perfect. I can feel his tail tensing just a little bit to do maybe a little bit of a whip, but the reason that I want to desensitize him to movement is because when I bring him out for a public presentation to do education on these guys because they're awesome, I'm not going to just be a statue up there.

I'm going to be moving my body. I'm gonna be walking back and forth, and I will like to show his face off and show the light on his body and where his tail starts. So this is perfect for him to get used to.

Oh buddy you're doing such a good job! While I'm at this angle, you guys can see exactly how I'm holding him here. The reason that I hold him in a circle with my fingers like that is so that it gives him room to roll his body if he needs to, but he can't roll out.

So this just gives him freedom but also keeps him safe and keeps me safe as well. All right guys, he is doing such a good job. I want to end on a positive.

I'm gonna go ahead and put him back and let him do his thing. You are so calm, bud! Nice Job!

Go on in there. There ya go. And you can see in his enclosure he has lots of places that he can hide because these guys are burrowers, and they like to get down and just keep themselves cozy and away from any predators that might want to eat them.

Okay guys well that was great! I am really proud at how calm he got and how that transition back into his enclosure was so smooth and relaxed. If you guys enjoyed learning about how to work with a species like a legless lizard you can continue following along on all the things we do at Animal Wonders by subscribing to our YouTube channel Animal Wonders Montana and we'll see you next week!

Thanks, guys! [ending music]