Ethowatcher logo 2 inglês compressed Click here to watch a short  tutorial video.


The EthoWatcher® is a computational tool freely available for non-commercial purposes, developed by a team of graduate students working at the Laboratory of Bioengineering of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IEB-UFSC, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, EEL) and at the Laboratory of Comparative Neurophysiology (Dept. of Physiological Sciences) of the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), to support detailed ethography, video-tracking, and the extraction of kinematic variables from digital video files of laboratory animals.


Its use is nearly self-explanatory and you’ll also have a built-in, step-by-step tutor available all the time.


 The software project started informally in 2004 as a behavioral data-logger, and quickly evolved to support PhD and MSc works of the EthoWatcher ® developers.  To date, this group includes Ricardo Bose, Cesar Pederiva, Vitor Augusto Garcia, Cesar Roberto Pamplona Filho, Alex Colussi, João Antônio Marcolan, Marcela Crozara  and (with special emphasis) Carlos Crispim Jr.. They contributed with different aspects of the software, under the supervision of José Marino-Neto (head of the  Lab of Bioengineering, IEB-UFSC), and used EthoWatcher®’s resources to investigate algorithms for artificial neural networks-based automated analysis and detection of behavioral patterns in lab animals.


If you used this software, and found it useful to your research, we ask you to kindly cite the related paper, which describes in  further details the validation and calibration procedures of the EthoWatcher®


The reference is:


Crispim Junior CF, Pederiva CN, Bose RC, Garcia VA, Lino-de-Oliveira C, Marino-Neto J. ETHOWATCHER: validation of a tool for behavioral and video-tracking analysis in laboratory animals. Comput Biol Med. 2012; 42(2): 257–64.  doi: 10.1016/j.compbiomed.2011.12.002 pmid:22204867.



The two modules of the EthoWatcher


The tracking module allows for controlled segmentation of the animal from background in a video file, and automatically deliver image attributes that are used to calculate distance travelled, animal orientation, length and area, as well as a path graph.


The ethography moduleallow users to build and use behavioral catalogues to record behavioral events on-line (from environment) and off-line (from video record files, continuously or frame-by-frame), producing time-segmented reports of duration, frequency or latency of the recorded behaviors, as well as their temporal sequence.


The EthoWatcher have modules for ethography (either directly from the environment and

from digital video files) and for tracking and extraction of kinematic data from moving objects

in a video file (Photos by Marino).

carcaras redPolyborus plancus Ordem Falconiformes - Copy

These are Carcarás (Polyborus plancus, Falconiformes) that lives in our roof and visit our lab’s window regularly. They keep staring at us like an ethologist should do to other animals. Mr. ans Mrs. Carcara were our inspiration to use the term “watcher” for this software. (photos by Marino)


The “EthoWatcher®” is registered in the Brazilian National Intellectual Property Institute (INPI) under the protocol number 09285-3, in the electronic journal No. 1982 .


This software is freely distributed here and this is the only site authorized to provide EthoWatcher copies.


 Please read the software license agreement carefully before you install the software in your computer or make use of it. This software is protected by copyright according to the provisions for the protection of computer programs. The copyright includes in particular the program code, the documentation, the appearance, the structure and organization of the program files, the program name, logos and other forms of presentation within the software. All other rights stemming from copyright belong to the licensor.


Warning: Unauthorized reproduction, modification or distribution of this program may result in criminal penalties



Other important tools for behavioral biologists


There are many systems for behavioral recording and analysis available (some of them are also freely distributed). We view the EthoWatcher as an alternative or as complementary to these programs. We would like to recommend a visit to their sites before you start your project, to find out the resources that better fit to your needs.

Behavioral Phenotyping

Biobserve  – Viewer





Tracksys Ltd 

Virtual dub –

The list is (fortunately) long. I’ll try to keep it updated and growing. If you know some other interesting tools for ethography, please let me know and I’ll be delighted to add them to this list.