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We tested the use of piezo-resistive force sensors to measure bite force in small mammals. These force sensors are thin (less than 1 mm) and can be used to measure forces up to 4,500 N. A battery-operated unit, ideal for field research, can be built easily and inexpensively. We tested this sensor in the laboratory and in the field on a variety of small mammals. Although our results indicate that the sensor is somewhat less accurate (coefficient of variation = 4%) than a conventional load cell, the small size and ease of use of the piezo-resistive detector is highly desirable. We also investigated the problem of performance and physiological condition of animals. We found the problem of lack of effort by test animals can enter a significant bias into estimates of maximal bite force.