Interspecific responses of wild African carnivores to odour of 3-mercapto-3-methylbutanol, a component of wildcat and leopard urine

Abstract

The scent of 3-mercapto-3-methylbutanol (3-M-3-MB), a volatile component of leopard (Panthera pardus) and domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) urine, released at about 10 ng/s from slow-release dispensers, elicited scent-marking from African civet (Civettictis civetta), small-spotted genet (Genetta genetta) and slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea), as well as African wildcat (F. s. cafra). A female leopard was apparently repelled by the scent. The scent-marking and scent-rubbing by species other than African wildcats and leopards were unexpected and have important implications for the design of studies to investigate chemical communication between wild mammals and the use of camera traps to estimate animal numbers. Videos showing the behaviours referred to in this article are available at; http://www.momo-p.com/showdetail-e.php?movieid=momo161223fs01a; http://www.momo-p.com/showdetail-e.php?movieid=momo161223gs01a; http://www.momo-p.com/showdetail-e.php?movieid=momo161223gg01a.

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Acknowledgements

This work was part of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust’s Bioboundary project, which was set up with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Running expenses for this work were provided by private donors through Wild Entrust International and Tusk Trust. We are grateful for permission to carry out research in Botswana granted by the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and the President’s Office under research permit number 8/36/4 XXIV (205).

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Correspondence to Peter Apps.

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Apps, P., Claase, M., Yexley, B. et al. Interspecific responses of wild African carnivores to odour of 3-mercapto-3-methylbutanol, a component of wildcat and leopard urine. J Ethol 35, 153–159 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-016-0503-7

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Keywords

  • Chemical communication
  • Pheromone
  • Mammal
  • Semiochemical
  • Tomcat thiol
  • CAS 34300-94-2
  • Felis silvestris
  • Panthera pardus