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Use of odor baits in traps to test reactions to intra- and interspecific chemical cues in house mice living in outdoor enclosures

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Abstract

House mice (Mus musculus) living in outdoor enclosures were tested for urinary chemical cue preferences using odor-baited traps. In the first experiment, with only volatile cues available, odors from conspecific males and females of various age classes and reproductive conditions were tested; no preferences were exhibited. In the second experiment mice had both nonvolatile and volatile cues available from the same sources as in experiment I. All age and sex class and female reproductive condition groups exhibited odor cue preferences except juvenile females. There were no specific odor cue preferences exhibited by any of the responder types with regard to odors from juvenile females. In the third and fifth experiments, mice were presented with nonvolatile plus volatile or only volatile urine odor cues, respectively, from four genera,Mus, Peromyscus, Microtus, andHomo. Mice of all age classes and both sexes preferredMus musculus odor, were neutral towardMicrotus ochrogaster odor, and avoided odors fromPeromyscus leucopus andHomo sapiens; these patterns were the same regardless of whether only volatile or both volatile and nonvolatile cues were presented. The fourth and sixth experiments involved testing volatile cues only and volatile cues plus nonvolatile cues from human sweat or feces from dogs, cats, or shrews. Mice avoided the human sweat and feces from cats and shrews, but were neutral toward the odor of dog feces. There were effects on whether mice were trapped in the interior of the enclosure or on the perimeter for some odors tested in these six experiments. The findings provide insights regarding possible functions of odor cues in the behavioral ecology of house mice. Odor-baiting traps can be an effective tool with respect to testing some, but not all questions pertaining to olfactory cues and house mouse social biology.

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Drickamer, L.C., Mikesic, D.G. & Shaffer, K.S. Use of odor baits in traps to test reactions to intra- and interspecific chemical cues in house mice living in outdoor enclosures. J Chem Ecol 18, 2223–2250 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00984947

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