Got it clipped? The effect of tail clipping on tail gripping performance in chameleons
Toe and tail clipping are commonly used methods for permanent marking of animals and for obtaining tissue samples for genetic analyses. Although it has been tested whether toe clipping affects locomotor performance (and thus potentially the fitness of an individual), little is known about the effect of tail clipping. Tails are important organs in many amphibians and reptiles and are used for balance or stability during locomotion or as prehensile organs. Effects of tail autotomy or the removal of large parts of the tail have previously been demonstrated. Here, we test whether the removal of a small part (<5 mm) of the distal tail in chameleons affects their ability to cling to branches of different diameters by measuring gripping strength using of a force platform. Our data show no significant or directional effect of tail clipping on the maximal forces that can be generated by the tail and, thus, suggest that tail clipping can be used as a method for tissue collection. © 2012 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.