Skip to main content

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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Burton, R. 1976. The Language of Smell. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., London.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Greene, H.W. 1987. Antipredator mechanisms in reptiles, pp. 1–151, (C. Gans and R.B. Huey eds.) inBiology of the Reptilia, Vol. 16. Alan R. Liss, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Kano N. 1976. Experiments on the avoidance by Japanese brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Noboribetsu Bear Park.Higuma 1(2): 15–17.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Kobayashi, T., andWatanabe, M. 1986. Analysis of snake-scent application behavior in Siberian chipmunks (Eutamias Sibiricus asiaticus).Ethology 72:40–52.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Price, A.H., andLaPointe, J.L. 1981. Structure-functional aspects of the scent gland inLampropeltus getulus splendida.Copeia 1981:138–146.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Smith, M.A. 1938. The nucho-dorsal glands of snakes.Proc. Zool. Soc. London 8:575–584.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Tucker, A.O., andTucker, S.S. 1988. Catnip and catnip response.Econ. Bot. 42:214–231.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Weldon, P.J., andFagre, D. B. 1989. Responses by canids to scent gland secretions of the western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).J. Chem. Ecol. 15:1589–1604.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Weldon, P.J., Lloyd, H.A., andBlum, M.S. 1990. Glycerol monoethers in the scent gland secretions of the western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox: Serpentes, Crotalinae).Experientia 46:774–775.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Wemmer, C., andScow, K. 1977. Communication in the Felidae with emphasis on scent marking and contact patterns, pp. 749–766,in T.A. Sebeok (ed.). How Animals Communicate. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul J. Weldon.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wright, J., Weldon, P.J. Responses by domestic cats (Felis catus) to snake scent gland secretions. J Chem Ecol 16, 2947–2953 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00979486

Download citation

Key Words

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