Saliva sampling is frequently used in humans for adrenal glucocorticoid hormone analysis because of advantages such as non-invasiveness, the ease of collection, and storing of the samples. To transfer this advantageous method to laboratory mammals, potentially confounding factors such as stressful handling procedures have to be excluded. In the present study we established a method for collecting saliva for cortisol measurement in freely moving adult male tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri). The practicability of the procedure was demonstrated (i) by stress-induced changes in cortisol levels revealing a significant increase during the stress phase (control = 0.91 nmol/l vs stress = 1.71 nmol/l), and (ii) by reporting no significant differences in salivary cortisol levels before and after performance of a learning task. The present study emphasizes the use of salivary cortisol analysis especially for monitoring acute changes in the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in male tree shrews.