Release reptiles into burrows
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Some reptiles rely on burrows to provide shelter from predators or weather extremes. Providing burrows as part of releasing translocated reptiles increases the suitability of the release habitat and reduces the immediate requirements on individuals (which may already be stressed from the translocation process) to find suitable shelter in a novel environment.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated study in 1980–1982 in five areas of pine forest in Mississippi, USA (Lohoefener & Lohmeier 1986) found that both releasing gopher tortoises Gopherus polyphemus into abandoned or artificial burrows and releasing tortoises with no burrows had low success, but providing burrows inside of release pens tended to result in more successful translocations. Results were not statistically tested. Success of translocations of tortoises placed in abandoned burrows or artificial burrows without release pens was low (Abandoned: 1 of 5 successful; artificial: 0 of 3), as was success of releases without a burrow or pen (0 of 11). When translocated gopher tortoises were initially held in release pens with artificial burrows, 17 of 21 translocations were successful. Forty individually-marked adult gopher tortoises (some may have been captive-bred) were translocated in spring–summer 1980–1982 (one tortoise = one translocation). Tortoises were released into either abandoned existing burrows (5 tortoises), artificial burrows (1 m deep; 3 tortoises), artificial burrows in circular release pens for 2–4 weeks (4–7 m diameter pens; 21 tortoises) or were directly released with no specific management (11 tortoises). Tortoises were monitored until late summer or early autumn in the release year and translocations were judged successful if previously abandoned burrows became active and a translocated tortoise was found in them, or new tortoise burrows were dug in areas without pre-existing tortoise populations.Study and other actions tested