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Responses by domestic cats (Felis catus) to snake scent gland secretions


The scent gland secretions of snakes are thought to repel predators, but few predator species have been tested for responses to these exudates. Domestic cats (Felis catus) were tested for responses to scent gland secretions of the gray rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta), or to choloroform extracts of them, applied to filter paper or food. More cats salivated or rubbed on filter papers treated with scent gland secretions than on control papers. Scent gland exudates elicited rubbing and pawing in cats more frequently than did chemicals from a shed snake skin. Cats offered food pieces treated either with water or with scent gland secretions ate fewer of the latter; this result is consistent with the hypothesis that scent gland secretions deter feeding.

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Correspondence to Paul J. Weldon.

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Wright, J., Weldon, P.J. Responses by domestic cats (Felis catus) to snake scent gland secretions. J Chem Ecol 16, 2947–2953 (1990).

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Key Words

  • Domestic cat
  • Felis catus
  • rat snake
  • Elaphe obsoleta
  • snake scent glands
  • feeding deterrence