After clearing animals from traps the teams get to the fun part of handling the animals whilst they process them in the lab.
Small mammals are processed first, as they can often become quite stressed when they are in small catch bags without water and food. We often catch small Spinifex hopping mice, Stripe- faced dunnarts, Fat tailed dunnarts and Bolam’s Mice. All small mammals are identified by species and are weighed. After that they are sexed, by turning them over and checking for the presence of teats on females. Sometimes this involves blowing on their bellies to move the fur around! They also have the underside of their tail marked with a paint texta, to help us identify any recaptures during the week.
After this they are fed with a sugar water mixture with a pipette and then placed into buckets with sunflower seed mix and water to keep them happy. The hopping mice have to be put into the tallest buckets available, with mesh over the top to ensure they don’t jump out the top- escapees around the lab can be common if you aren’t watching closely!
Reptiles are also identified and have their weight taken but they have a couple more measurements before they are returned to their catch bags. Their snout to vent is measured using a ruler, from the tips of their nose to the small slit that is visible at the base of their tail between their two hinds legs. They then have their tail measured, from the vent right to the very tip. Processors need to make sure they stretch the tails out as straight as possible, which some small critters don’t enjoy too much! Reptiles then also have one of their toes clipped, to help us identify them if they are caught in future trapping sessions. They are also marked with a paint texta on their tail, similar to the mammals to help us easily determine if they have already been caught during this trapping session.
The animals are then left in the cool air conditioned lab for the afternoon before they are collected up by their teams in the early evening to be released. To see more photos of the processing head to www.facebook.com/AridRecovery