The Rainforest Connection: How We Study Mammals

Below are some pictures of us setting up the camera surveillance in BCI rainforest.  See our album of rainforest animals that was photographed by these cameras. 

Greg setting up a camera

One way to find out what mammals are passing through an area is to set up a camera that automatically takes their photos. These three photos show Greg and Jackie preparing and placing the cameras in locations where they have seen mammals or tracks of mammals. These cameras are made by the TrailMaster Company (see their website for more information).

setting up cameras in the forest

The cameras are connected to a device that senses infra-red light. The sensor receives a beam of infra-red from another device that produces a beam. The two devices are set so that an animal will pass through the beam and interrupt it. Animals cannot see the beam, nor can we. The beam of light causes an electric circuit to be completed.

Jackie between 2 fallen trees

When the beam is interrupted, the circuit is broken, and the camera is triggered to take a picture. The camera automatically winds, the film is ready for another photo. This infra-red mechanism is something like the system that opens automatic doors in supermarkets. Can you locate a beam in your supermarket doorway?

brocket at night

paca at night

big cat at night

didelphis at night

coatied walking at night

agouti at night

The following photos are pictures that the animals took of themselves, when our cameras sensed their presence. Some mammals were moving around at night, and they must have been startled when the camera flash went off! But some animals kept coming back, so they couldn't have been very frightened.

Trapping Squirrels:

Greg with a caged squirrel

Jackie and Greg trap squirrels in live-traps so they can be marked with ear-tags (like pierced earrings) and necklaces of colored beads. We do this so we can tell them apart and recognize them when we see them feeding or running around. Each earring has a unique number and each necklace has a different color combination. The photos below show one squirrel that we marked.

"Royal Blue", a male squirrel was caught in a trap that Greg carried carefully out of the forest and into the laboratory. Royal Blue was anesthetized with a gas until he was groggy. Then we took him out of the trap and laid him on a soft fabric cloth. Handling squirrels when they are asleep means that they do not become distressed and panic and perhaps hurt themselves struggling. They also don't feel it when we pierce their ear. And we have a chance to carefully measure and fit the necklace so that it's not too tight or too loose.

royal blue squirrel  

This is what Royal Blue looked like when he was being fitted with his jewelry. He slept peacefully and we weighed him (455 grams) and checked him for parasites: can you see the tiny tick on the edge of one ear?

squirrel close-up

This close-up of Royal Blue shows his beads, his big incisor teeth, and his long whiskers.