Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society

The effectiveness of hair traps for surveying mammals: results of a study in sandstone caves in the Tasmanian southern midlands

Rachel L. Harris A and Stewart C. Nicol A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Mammalogy 32(1) 62-66
Submitted: 4 August 2009  Accepted: 30 January 2010   Published: 24 March 2010


We compared detection success of hair tubes and funnels with tape and Velcro adhesives as part of a small-scale mammal survey in sand-bottomed caves in the southern midlands of Tasmania. In order to detect small mammals entering traps but not leaving hair samples behind, a new type of funnel design was tested. In total, 19 species were detected throughout the survey period using a combination of hair traps and track and scat analysis. When tracks were observed inside funnel entrances no hairs were found on the adhesive tapes in 71% of cases. Hairs from several species were found in traps although there were no tracks of these species in the caves. These results further emphasise the importance of using multiple techniques when conducting general mammal surveys. Appropriate hair trap design is an important factor to be considered when conducting mammal surveys, as it has the potential to strongly influence survey efficiency and overall results.

Additional keywords: adhesive, funnel, hair trap, mammal survey, scats, Tasmania, tracks.


We thank the McShane family for allowing us to conduct our survey on their property. Thanks to Billie Lazenby for advice on hair identification, Barbara Triggs for validating a subsample, and two anonymous reviewers for useful comments on the manuscript. This study was conducted under Animal Ethics Approval A0010064 and Department of Primary Industries and Water Permit FA 08053.


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