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Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 2107–2120 | Cite as

Volatile compounds from excreta of laboratory mice (Mus musculus)

Preliminary examination of composition and effects on behavior
  • B. S. Goodrich
  • S. Gambale
  • Pamela R. Penncuik
  • T. D. Redhead
Article

Abstract

Volatile components of all the excretory products deposited by house mice may contribute to their ability to identify their own territories. When mice were placed on a clean surface, they deposited feces, secretions discharged from the anus (anal secretion) and urine. Exposure to several clean surfaces in succession caused a decline in the number of fecal pellets and urine spots deposited and an increase in the number of anal smears. The volatile compounds emanating from feces and anal secretion appeared to be qualitatively and quantitatively different from those emanating from urine, but many compounds with short retention times appeared to be common to feces and anal secretion. Introducing volatiles from feces of strange males into the territory of a singly housed male altered the site at which the resident animal deposited its feces but had no effect on the site at which it urinated. Introducing the feces or the anal secretion of a male mouse into the environment where it encountered a strange conspecific appeared to improve its success in encounters with a conspecific. It was concluded that at least some of the volatile compounds that enable mice to distinguish their own territory from those of neighboring groups may be derived from feces and that many fecal volatiles may originate from the secretions of glands opening into the digestive tract.

Key words

Mouse Mus musculus feces urine volatile constituents gas chromatography behavior 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. S. Goodrich
    • 1
  • S. Gambale
    • 2
  • Pamela R. Penncuik
    • 1
  • T. D. Redhead
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Wildlife and EcologyCSIRONorth RydeAustralia
  2. 2.Division of Wildlife and EcologyCSIROLynehamAustralia

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