Faecal marking behaviour in ringtails (Bassariscus astutus) during the non-breeding period: spatial characteristics of latrines and single faeces
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Scent signals are the main source of information transmission in carnivores, being particularly important for those with nocturnal habits like the ringtail (Bassariscus astutus), a Procyonid widely distributed in Mexico. However, faecal marking behaviour of free-ranging ringtails has not been described previously. The aims of this study were to describe the use of latrines in ringtails and to test if single faeces and latrines have a marking function, based on the spatial characterisation of the defecation places and revisits to these sites. The study was conducted at an urban reserve within Mexico City in 2003, where 80 defecation points were analysed. The results showed that ringtails deposit faeces repeatedly in the same sites (latrines), which contain a variable number of faeces (between 2 and 19). The spatial distribution of latrines was not random, but a selection of substrates and zones that enhanced the effectiveness as faecal marks was observed. Latrines were preferentially placed on objects above ground level and at road margins. Latrines and single faeces that were in inconspicuous zones were generally deposited on conspicuous substrates and latrines and single faeces that were in conspicuous zones were deposited more frequently on inconspicuous substrates.
Key words.Mammalia Procyonidae Bassariscus astutus faeces latrines single faeces visual and scent marking
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