Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Remote data collection on very small mammals using Raspberry Pi and other technology in a bait station (#251)

Katrina E Gobetz 1 , Bryan A Cage 1
  1. James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States of America

Live-trapping of very small mammals, such as pygmy shrews, is challenging due to high BMR, FMR, and energy expenditures of these species. Sherman and Longworth traps require vigilant monitoring; yet even with careful methods, escape and mortality may lead to unsatisfactory data. We developed a bait station, designed with Tinker Cad software and printed on a 3-D printer, that allows us to weigh, measure, and photograph trap visitors while allowing mammals to enter and exit at will. The station was designed to obviate the need for 1-2 hr/day trap checking or handling of small, often fragile mammals. Data is collected using a combination of mini-DV camera, small force plate, and Raspberry Pi 3 computer.  Photographs are taken as the force plate is touched, while the force plate records a voltage that is translated to weight in grams.  We will describe our testing of the prototype station in the laboratory, followed by our field setup and success rate. We will also give an overview of new challenges, such as protection of the credit card-sized computer from condensation and determining accurate weight ranges, and identifying individuals. This bait station alternatively uses a LoRa (long-range, ca. 19 km radius) radio with a built-in microprocessor that can submit data directly to a laptop or phone for efficient field-monitoring. The hope is that this station will be applicable to studies by other researchers and students for eutherians and metatherians at the low end of the mammalian size spectrum.