Noninvasive age estimation in rodents by measuring incisors width, with the Zaisan mole vole (Ellobius tancrei) as an example

Kristina V. Kuprina, Antonina V. Smorkatcheva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Non-invasive age estimation is critically important for many field studies but often it represents a significant challenge. In rodents, upper incisors represent a part of a cranium which can be readily measured in an alive animal. We propose an age estimation method based on the measurements of both upper incisors' width (IW) for a subterranean rodent, Ellobius tancrei. The IW measurements for 77 laboratory-born females and 81 males were fitted, separately for the sexes, by sigmoidal Gompertz growth functions to obtain the asymptotic values. Based on the data set encompassing pre-asymptotic ages, we then derived a polynomial regression model with log-transformed age as a predictor. The analysis revealed no statistically significant sex difference in growth patterns. Derived model explained 91% of IW variation and was used to obtain predicted values of age and their 95% prediction intervals through inverse calculations. We conclude that IW is a potentially useful age indicator for mole voles and possibly other rodents in cases when invasive or time-consuming methods are non-appropriate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Early online date25 Apr 2018
StatePublished - 19 Dec 2019

Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • age estimation
  • Ellobius
  • incisors growth
  • mole vole
  • non-invasive method

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