Tattoo pens as a low-cost approach to in-field permanent identification of medium-sized mammals
Reliable identification of individual animals is a primary requirement of population research where data consist of recaptures. Tattooing is a simple and cost‐effective method for permanently marking many mammal species with minimal negative effects, unlike other marking methods, which are often invasive or harmful. Here, we investigate whether a battery‐operated tattoo pen designed for rabbits (Leporidae) is an effective, minimally invasive and low‐cost alternative to other forms of marking and tattooing, which can be successfully applied in the field without altering capture rates. We used the “Rabbi‐tatt” rabbit tattoo pen (Bass Equipment Company, Monnett, MO, USA; http://www.bassequipment.com) to apply identification marks to the ears of northern brown bandicoots (Isoodon macrourus) and common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) captured between January 2013 and May 2015 in conservation reserves near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Recapture rates did not differ between within‐week recapture rates where tattooing was not used, compared with periods where tattooing was used. During the tattooing period, 50% of possums and 67% of bandicoots were recaptured at least once and many displayed behavior indicative of trap‐happiness after tattooing. The use of the battery‐operated tattoo pen on mammals addresses a number of difficulties associated with tattoo pliers and other forms of permanent marking. We conclude that tattoo pens are a viable method for simply and cost‐effectively marking appropriate species in a minimally invasive way.
Wildlife Society Bulletin
Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified