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Reappraisal of an old cheap method for marking the European hedgehog

Mori, Emiliano, Menchetti, Mattia, Bertolino, Sandro, Mazza, Giuseppe, Ancillotto, Leonardo
Mammal research 2015 v.60 no.2 pp. 189-193
Erinaceus europaeus, animals, color, ethics, field experimentation
Marking quilled animals for individual recognition may be challenging. This is particularly true for European hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus, whose defense mechanism involves the concealment of muzzle and underparts. Heat-shrink tubes have been widely used to mark quills, but they do not adapt to the morphological structure of the spines and are rapidly lost, thus reducing method effectiveness. We adapted a cheap and ethical method used to mark crested porcupine quills, which involves the use of colored adhesive tapes applied to quills. The retention period of this marking technique lasts up to 9 months, allowing short-term field studies and possibly dispersal distances measurements. The method could be improved by doubling the number of marked spines and by reapplying adhesive tape at every recapture event. Moreover, the use of a marking code can be obtained by subdividing the body of the hedgehog into six body areas, to increase the number of marking possibilities, through the combination of tape colors and body areas.