U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

January 2005


Accurate density estimates of rodents are frequently difficult or cost-prohibitive to determine. Thus, a number of techniques (track plates, monitoring blocks, chew cards/sticks, apple slice index, trapping) are often used to index rodent populations. Theoretically, the sensitivity of these indexing techniques could be improved if they applied continuous measurements rather than simple binary measurements (presence/absence). Development of a relative abundance technique that is simple to apply and sensitive to changes in population density is critical for the operational management of rodent pests. In addition to providing a quantitative measure of abundance with statistical parameters, an indexing technique that does not require handling of animals is important in consideration of potential disease issues (for example, hantavirus, arenavirus, etc.). We investigated track plates, chew cards and nx>mtoring blocks and assodatedcontmuousn^asurement methods fwcalculatm laboratory and field settings, we tested their effectiveness in detecting different population densities of California meadow voles (Microtus cahfornicus). Chew cards were poorly accepted by meadow voles in pen and field tests. However, track plates and monitoring blocks may provide useful tools for indexing meadow vole populations, and have application fix other rodent species.