Radiotelemetry transmitters have become critical to studies of wildlife ecology. However, little is known about how transmitter implantation surgery affects the mobility of some species, including the timber rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus. Tracking snake movement can provide insights into the effects of transmitter implantation. During 2007–11, 71 radio transmitters were surgically implanted intracoelomically in 47 timber rattlesnakes. Over 20 of these snakes underwent surgery at least twice in 5 yr to replace old transmitters. Surgeries were performed under general anesthesia with a local nerve block at the site of implantation, 20 cm cranial to the cloaca. Snakes were also administered postsurgical meloxicam and enrofloxacin every 24 h for three doses. Two to five days after surgery, snakes were released at their original locations and radiotracked regularly during the active seasons (April–October 2007–11). Average daily movement data (distance traveled) were compiled for each snake. Snakes undergoing transmitter surgery in a given year did not differ significantly in distance traveled compared to snakes that had transmitters but did not have surgery in that year. Distance traveled for each snake did not differ before or after surgery or between weeks 1 and 2 postsurgery, indicating that the transmitter implantation did not alter snake movement.
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Vol. 53 • No. 3