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Anal sac secretion of the red fox,Vulpes vulpes; volatile fatty acids and diamines: Implications for a fermentation hypothesis of chemical recognition


Putrescine (1,4-diaminobutane) and cadaverine (1,5-di-aminopentane) were identified in the anal sac secretions of the red fox,Vulpes vulpes, and of the lion, Panthera leo. Anal sac secretion samples obtained over a period of 10 weeks by sampling from within each sac of each of 6 captive foxes were analyzed and putrescine, cadaverine, and volatile fatty acid compositions and secretion pH values recorded. A significant (P < 0.001) negative correlation of pH (range 6.5–9.4) with total volatile fatty acid concentration was observed. Secretion compositions are discussed in the context of a fermentation hypothesis of chemical recognition. Secretion samples could not be unambiguously assigned to particular foxes on the basis of simple comparisons of volatile fatty acid profiles alone. Composition differences were noted between secretions obtained at a given time from corresponding right and left sacs.

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Albone, E.S., Perry, G.C. Anal sac secretion of the red fox,Vulpes vulpes; volatile fatty acids and diamines: Implications for a fermentation hypothesis of chemical recognition. J Chem Ecol 2, 101–111 (1976).

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Key words

  • anal sac
  • volatile fatty acid
  • putrescine
  • cadaverine
  • profile
  • fermentation
  • recognition
  • Vulpes vulpes
  • Panthera leo