European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 455–457 | Cite as

Simple method for locating a suitable venipuncture site on the tail of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana)

  • Amanda Jo Williams-Newkirk (Amanda Jo Williams-Newkirk)Email author
  • Johanna S. Salzer (Johanna S. Salzer)
  • Darin S. Carroll (Darin S. Carroll)
  • Thomas R. Gillespie (Thomas R. Gillespie)
  • Gregory A. Dasch (Gregory A. Dasch)
Technical Notes


We identified a site suitable for venipuncture on the tail of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) that is reliably and easily located. The prominent hemal arch associated with the ventral surface of caudal vertebra 5 serves as an easily palpated anatomical landmark for locating the ventral caudal vein for blood collection. Because this venipuncture site is only thinly covered by fur and visualization of the vein is not necessary for its location, site preparation and total animal handling time for routine venipuncture are minimal. Blood may be collected from immature and adult male and female animals, and the technique is easily taught to new technicians with minimal danger of injury to the animal.


Blood collection Didelphis virginiana Opossum Tail vein Venipuncture Wildlife management 



We would like to thank Jessica Harmon, Ryan Lash, Robert Newkirk, Tim Rose, Karen Wu, and Audrey Zeis for their invaluable assistance in the field. We are also grateful to Byron Freeman at the Georgia Museum of Natural History for providing access to opossum specimens for reference for Fig. 1, to Robert Newkirk for providing the illustration, and to Carl Brown at Emory University for his helpful suggestions. Images and video footage in the training video were kindly provided by Tim Rose, Jimmie Williams, and Kim Williams. This research was supported in part by the appointment of Salzer and Williams-Newkirk to the Research Participation Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and by the Department of Environmental Studies at Emory University.

Supplementary material

Online Resource 1

Video providing two examples of venipuncture of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) ventral caudal vein. Video contains English captions and is 7.5 minutes long. (MPG 179214 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda Jo Williams-Newkirk (Amanda Jo Williams-Newkirk)
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Johanna S. Salzer (Johanna S. Salzer)
    • 1
    • 3
  • Darin S. Carroll (Darin S. Carroll)
    • 3
  • Thomas R. Gillespie (Thomas R. Gillespie)
    • 1
  • Gregory A. Dasch (Gregory A. Dasch)
    • 2
  1. 1.Program in Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution, Department of Environmental StudiesEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Vector-borne DiseasesCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Poxvirus Branch, Division of High Consequence PathogensCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA

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