The future management of nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) requires solid space-use and activity data, which are currently lacking and which radiotelemetry can provide. External radiotransmitters have not been successful applied with this species. To make recommendations for intra-abdominal radiotransmitter placement in nine-banded armadillos, we 1) evaluated 4 different anesthetic protocols for safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness; 2) evaluated a surgical technique for the intra-abdominal placement of radiotransmitters that addresses problems described in previous studies; and 3) evaluated the physiologic and behavioral effects of such a technique. We captured and surgically implanted 37 nine-banded armadillos using either butorphanol and isoflurane, ketamine alone, ketamine and xylazine, or a combination of butorphanol, ketamine, and medetomidine for anesthesia. We recovered and necropsied armadillos after the completion of the study. The objective and subjective assessment of butorphanol, ketamine, and medetomidine combination protocol, followed by reversal of the anesthesia with atipamezole, showed that it was the best overall anesthetic protocol for field use, providing both a smooth induction and fast recovery. We evaluated the fate and effects of radiotransmitters on 13 recovered animals at the end of the study and found no adverse effects. We recommend the implantation of radiotransmitters that are allowed to free-float within the abdominal cavity and specifically emphasize the need for strict aseptic technique. Wildlife managers and wildlife veterinarians aiming to implant nine-banded armadillos with radiotransmitters will benefit from using the recommended anesthetic protocol and surgical technique in future studies.
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Vol. 74 • No. 1