Toe-bud clipping of juvenile small marsupials for ecological field research: No detectable negative effects on growth or survival

Fisher, D.O. and Blomberg, S.P. (2009) Toe-bud clipping of juvenile small marsupials for ecological field research: No detectable negative effects on growth or survival. Austral Ecology, 34 8: 858-865. doi:10.1111/j.1442-9993.2009.01991.x


Author Fisher, D.O.
Blomberg, S.P.
Title Toe-bud clipping of juvenile small marsupials for ecological field research: No detectable negative effects on growth or survival
Journal name Austral Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1442-9985
Publication date 2009-12-01
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2009.01991.x
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 34
Issue 8
Start page 858
End page 865
Total pages 8
Editor Bull, M.
Place of publication Australia
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
Language eng
Subject C1
060207 Population Ecology
9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Abstract Toe clipping is widely used to permanently mark many species of small vertebrates including marsupials, particularly didelphids and dasyurids. Small marsupials are marked as juveniles, by removing the tip of developing toe buds. It has recently been shown that survival and/or recapture probability decreases with increasing number of toes clipped in frogs. Because of this and other animal welfare concerns, toe clipping of adult vertebrates is increasingly being discouraged. The short- and long-term effects of toe-bud clipping have not been evaluated in marsupials. We used an experiment to test if marking more toes results in slower growth or higher mortality in the brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii, Dasyuridae) in the short or long term. We found no harmful effects of toe-bud clipping. There were no infections associated with clipping, marking more toes did not reduce growth in young or adults, and did not affect survival of young in captivity, survival of independent animals in the wild, or recapture probability. Toe-bud clipping is done at an extremely immature stage, when the area cut is tiny and perception and memory of pain is unlikely to be a problem. We suggest that toe-bud clipping is a humane and benign method of permanently marking antechinuses, and probably also the young of other morphologically similar small marsupials.
Formatted abstract
Toe clipping is widely used to permanently mark many species of small vertebrates including marsupials, particularly didelphids and dasyurids. Small marsupials are marked as juveniles, by removing the tip of developing toe buds. It has recently been shown that survival and/or recapture probability decreases with increasing number of toes clipped in frogs. Because of this and other animal welfare concerns, toe clipping of adult vertebrates is increasingly being discouraged. The short- and long-term effects of toe-bud clipping have not been evaluated in marsupials. We used an experiment to test if marking more toes results in slower growth or higher mortality in the brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii, Dasyuridae) in the short or long term. We found no harmful effects of toe-bud clipping. There were no infections associated with clipping, marking more toes did not reduce growth in young or adults, and did not affect survival of young in captivity, survival of independent animals in the wild, or recapture probability. Toe-bud clipping is done at an extremely immature stage, when the area cut is tiny and perception and memory of pain is unlikely to be a problem. We suggest that toe-bud clipping is a humane and benign method of permanently marking antechinuses, and probably also the young of other morphologically similar small marsupials.

Keyword Antechinus
growth
markÔÇôrecapture
marking methods
survival
toe clipping
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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Created: Tue, 01 Dec 2009, 00:22:21 EST by Hayley Ware on behalf of School of Biological Sciences