| Animals |

The "Lizard Whisperer" Explains How to Hypnotize a Lizard

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of South Florida and help keep the future of New Times free.

As a 6-year-old kid, Lily Capeheart would catch lizards in her West Palm Beach backyard. Then one day in 2006, she tried to hypnotize one. She had seen a show on Animal Planet in which a woman hypnotizes an alligator by flipping it over and rubbing its belly. Capeheart figured the same trick could work on the tiny reptiles in her backyard. It did! For half an hour, Capeheart could keep lizards in a highly relaxed and still state.

Capeheart would then play with the entranced lizards like dolls: she’d dress them in Polly Pockets clothes and pose them to tell stories. There was the artist lizard, the opera singer lizard, the motorcycle lizard. Since her father is a photographer, he taught her to take stills of her work. 

“It was funny — the lizards would stay so still. They were like little living dolls,” Capeheart says. “I’m sure my parents were a little weirded out, but they supported anything I did.”

The Capehearts decided to start Lizardville, a small online business selling the wacky prints on T-shirts and coffee mugs. The media soon caught on to Capehart’s talent and, in 2009, David Letterman and Ellen DeGeneres both invited her on their shows as a guest. She was called a “Lizard Whisperer.” Business took off.

But that was seven years ago. Capeheart, now a 20-year-old business and environmental science major at FAU, says she hasn’t actually hypnotized a lizard in a few years and hasn’t posed them for photos since middle school. Now that it's summer, she shared her tricks to hypnotizing lizards for other curious kids:

“No one has ever come up with a scientific explanation for it,” she says. “I think it just depends on having patience.”
Step 1: Catch the lizard. 
For many, this is the hardest step. Capeheart says to be very gentle, or else "their tails will fall off if you grab them." Capeheart says it helps to sneak up on the lizards from behind. If they don't see you running toward them, they're less likely to scurry away in a bush.

Step 2: Hold them for a minute.
Capehart stresses to be gentle and not to squeeze the lizards, as she has sometimes seen younger kids do. Since lizards are cold-blooded, she believes they enjoy the warmth of the human hand. In videos, the lizards seem to curl up on Capeheart's fingers. 

Step 3: Flip the lizard over.
Capeheart says to turn the lizard over gently. In videos, Capeheart uses her right hand to lightly pinch the lizard from behind. That way its stomach is exposed to her.  

Step 4: Gently stroke the lizard's belly.
This is where the magic happens. Capeheart says there isn't a secret spell or way of stroking the belly to bring the lizard to its relaxed state. She uses her left index finger to softly brush the animal's belly. It doesn't take more than five seconds for the lizard to suddenly relax and stay completely still. Capeheart says they'll stay like that for a few minutes and up to half an hour. 

Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in South Florida.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in South Florida.