Animal identification

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Calf identified with ear tag and transponder

Animal identification using a means of marking is a process done to identify and track specific animals. It is done for a variety of reasons including verification of ownership, biosecurity control, and tracking for research or agricultural purposes.


Individual identification of animals by means of body markings has been practiced for over 3,800 years, as stated in Code of Hammurabi.[1] The first official identification systems are documented as far as the 18th century. In Uruguay for instance maintained at that time a register of hot brands.[2]





  • Collars (electronic and non-electronic)
  • Earmarking
  • Ear tags (non-electronic)
  • Ear tags (electronic)
  • Semi-permanent paint
  • Tattoo




Laboratory mice[edit]

  • Earmarking (notching or punching)
  • Ear tags (nickel, copper or scannable 2D barcode tags)
  • Microchip implants
  • Hair dye
  • Toe clipping[note 1]
  • Manual tattoos (tail, foot pad or ears)
  • Automated tail tattoos[3]


Marine mammals[edit]

  • Transponders
  • Adhesive tags



  • Adhesive tags
  • Semi-permanent paint

National animal identification schemes[edit]


  1. ^ 'Toe clipping' in mice involves the full or partial amputation of one or more digits as a means of permanent identification.



  1. ^ Blancou, J (2001). "A history of the traceability of animals and animal products". Revue scientifique et technique (International Office of Epizootics). 20 (2): 413–25. PMID 11548516.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Bell, J. "Labstamp system" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 26, 2015. Retrieved February 26, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Fardell, Loren; Stockwell, Michelle P.; Valdez, Jose W.; Klop-Toker, Kaya; Clulow, Simon; Clulow, John; Mahony, Michael J. (2015). "Tagging tadpoles: retention rates and impacts of visible implant elastomer (VIE) tags from the larval to adult amphibian stages". The Herpetological Journal. 25 (3): 133–140.
  5. ^ Fouilloux, Chloe; Garcia-Costoya, Guillermo; Rojas, Bibiana (2020). "Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) Success in Early Larval Stages of a Tropical Amphibian Species". PeerJ. 8: e9630. doi:10.7717/peerj.9630. PMID 32864207.