A taping method for external transmitter attachment on aquatic snakes

Herpetological Review
By: , and 



Radio telemetry is extremely useful for studying habitat use and movements of free ranging snakes. Surgically implanting radio transmitters into the body cavity of snakes is standard practice in most studies (e.g., Reinert and Cundall 1982; Weatherhead and Blouin-Demers 2004), but this implanting method has its drawbacks. Surgery itself is risky for individual snakes because of the potential for infection or incomplete healing of the incision site. Also, transmitters that are small enough to be carried by small or slender snakes have a relatively short battery life and need to be removed or replaced often, thus requiring frequent surgeries. In rare or endangered snake species, the risk of using invasive implantation surgery may not be merited. External attachment methods are relatively non-invasive and allow removal and replacement of radio transmitters on smaller snakes. The Giant Gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas) is a semi-aquatic snake endemic to wetlands of the Central Valley of California, USA, and is federally and state listed as threatened (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1999). Telemetry studies of the habitat use and movements of this species typically used surgically implanted radio transmitters, but this method is limited to larger snakes, primarily females, because of size requirements for surgery (> 250 g). To overcome difficulties and biases associated with radio telemetry of T. gigas, we developed and evaluated several alternative techniques to attach external radio transmitters using tape.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A taping method for external transmitter attachment on aquatic snakes
Series title Herpetological Review
Volume 42
Issue 2
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 5 p.
First page 187
Last page 191
Country United States
State California
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details