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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2018

Authors: Stryjek, R; Mioduszewska, B; Spaltabaka-Gędek, E; Juszczak, GR

Title: Wild Norway Rats Do Not Avoid Predator Scents When Collecting Food in a Familiar Habitat: A Field Study.

Source: Sci Rep. 2018; 8(1):9475

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Mioduszewska Berenika

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition

The ability to avoid predators is crucial to wild prey animals' survival. Potential danger is signalled, among others, by the presence of predator scents. These odors are used in research both to trigger and to study fear reactions in laboratory animals; they are also employed as repellents against pest rodent species. In our study, we assessed nine predator-derived odors for their effectiveness in eliciting avoidance responses in a free-living colony of Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus). The rats were studied in a field setting. Food was put in two compartments inside the experimental pen: in one of them, predator scent was introduced on experimental days. The rats did not avoid boxes with predator odor and did not display an increased latency of food-carrying behavior or any other fear-related behavior, such as freezing or increased grooming. The results confirm the hypothesis that the foraging of rodents in a well-known territory and in relative proximity to burrows and other shelters is not affected by indirect cues of predation risk, such as the presence of predator urine or feces. We have also concluded that in a well-established colony living in a familiar territory, predator scent holds little promise as rodent repellent.

Keywords Pubmed: Animal Communication
Avoidance Learning
Feeding Behaviorphysiology
Predatory Behaviorphysiology

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