Beetles, Lizards, and Snakes! Oh my!

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Zoo InternQuest is a career exploration program for high school students.  For more information see the Zoo InternQuest blogs.  For more photos see the Zoo InternQuest Photo Journal.

Jean-Pierre Montagne works with many different species of reptiles, amphibians, and rodents on the reserve acres adjacent to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. His job is to monitor biodiversity by identifying gender, age class (adult or juvenile), and recapture status fo the animals he finds in his pitfall traps.

On the reserve, interns were given the chance to check pitfall traps . The traps are set in “Y” shaped arrays of buckets in the ground connected by drift fences so that snakes, beetles, and lizards can fall in but not get out untill Mr. Montagne and his partners identify the animals.

In the first trap that interns opened there were no lizards but many beetles like the one on Mr. Montagne’s hand. Most of the beetles were hiding inside a tube filled with cotton. The tubes are also good hiding places for animals if another animal is trying to chase them.

Intern Sophie opens the lid of her first trap and reaches in to find nothing. It was the first of many traps that she had opened on our hike through the reserve.

After opening the trap, Intern Tony gets busy recording. If an animal is found in the trap, then he would record whether it is male or female, an adult or juvenile, and whether or not it has been captured in the past.

Intern Rachel holds the first and only animal find during the hike. It is an orange-throated whiptail lizard. Its gender is unknown, it is an adult, and it has not been captured before.

Kaitlyn, Rachel, and Eleanor follow the array to the next pitfall trap in hopes of finding a lizard, snake, or who knows what else?!

Shaye, Photo Journalist Team

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