The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2020 Impact Factor for the Herpetological Journal is 0.862

pdf 07. Urinary corticosterone metabolite responses to capture and visual elastomer tagging in the Asian toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus)


Open Access

pp. 179-183

Authors: Edward J. Narayan & Narahari P. Gramapurohit

Abstract: Herpetological research involving amphibians is increasingly using mark and recapture methods, employing various techniques such as toe-clipping and visible implant alphanumeric tags. Visual Implant Elastomer (VIE) is a new method available for herpetological surveys, involving a coloured dye inserted into the epidermal skin surface of frogs. Previously, there has been only one study which demonstrated that the VIE method does not generate a significant physiological stress response (using a faecal glucocorticoid method) in a captive amphibian species. Physiological stress can also be quantified non-invasively using urinary corticosterone metabolite (UCM) enzyme-immunoassay in amphibians. In this study, we tested the physiological stress response of a common amphibian species, wild caught Asian toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus), by comparing UCM responses to capture handling, sham control or VIE marking method. Adult males (n = 38) were captured and sampled for baseline UCM (t = 0 h) then marked either using the VIE or sham (saline control), or only handled during capture. Subsequently, urine samples were collected at t = 2, 12 and 24 h for toads within each group. UCM levels were quantified using an enzyme-immunoassay (EIA) to determine differences among treatment groups and over time following capture. Toads generated acute stress responses to all three groups, showing a change in UCMs between baseline samples, 12 h, and 24 h samples. The mean UCM levels were not significantly different between the VIE method and the control groups (capture handling or sham operated). These results indicate that VIE method of tagging is no more stressful than routine handling of amphibians, hence in this context, the method does not have any additional welfare implications. Future research should explore the limitations of VIE tagging for long-term mark recapture studies, however, our current findings support its application as a minimally-invasive method for marking amphibians.

Keywords: amphibians, mark-recapture, welfare, stress, Visual Implant Elastomer (VIE)

Download Access:

The latest 8 issues can be downloaded when logged in with a Herpetological Journal subscription membership.

Individual articles can be purchased for download.

Older issues and occasional Open Access articles are available for public download


For further information and submission guidelines please see our Journal Instructions to Authors

pdfBHS Ethics Policy


Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

Aligning with this change, it is now no longer possible to purchase a subscription that includes a print copy of the HJ.  All members who have existing HJ print subscriptions that remain active as at end June 2020 will receive the full four 2020 print editions.  New subscribers or renewals after this time will only have option to subscribe to the online only subscription package.  Subscription pricing has been amended to reflect the content changes.