Most rattlesnake researchers implant radio-transmitters into their study animals. Such transmitters emit radio frequency signals that can be picked up by a receiver (sort of like how your car radio picks up station frequencies). This allows us to track individual snakes, which are normally hard to relocate due to their elusive nature (i.e. they like to hide in burrows and under rocks). However, since we are conducting a behavioral study, we tried out a new external attachment technique because surgically implanting transmitters can alter the behavior of the animals for up to two weeks. Check out the process below.
Rulon tubes a snake and we anesthetize it by placing a paper towel soaked in isoflurane at the end of the tube
Anesthetized snake ready for a transmitter attachment
We sewed the transmitter through the skin of the snake, but not through the muscle (subcutaneous)
A released snake with external transmitter attached--we also duct-taped them in place
So far, most snakes have managed to rip off their external transmitters--We have been forced to do surgeries on the rest of our sample population