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Laboratory and Field Evaluation of Predator Odors as Repellents for Kiore (Rattus exulans) and Ship Rats (R. rattus)

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Abstract

Predator odors may serve to stop rats from entering conservation areas or to decrease predation, food consumption, and other damage by rats in areas tainted with predator odor. We compared the efficacy of real predator odors and synthetic odors (derived from the urine and feces of carnivores) as rat repellents with real herbivore odors as controls in a Y maze. We tested six predator odors: cat (Felis catus) urine and feces, mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) feces, n-propylthietane, S-methyl, methyl butanol, and isopentyl-methyl sulphide. The herbivore odors we used were: red deer (Cervus elaphus) urine, guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) feces, and white rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) urine. Ship rats (Rattus rattus) and kiore or Polynesian rats (R. exulans) showed no aversion to any of the six predator odors when compared with herbivore odors. Ship rats, however, may have avoided synthesized odors more than real ones. We applied two odors (S-methyl, methyl butanol and n-propylthietane) to purpose-built feeders in native forest but recorded no change in either visitation rate or duration of visits for rodents [rats and mice (Mus musculus)] or possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). The consumption of maize at feeders was correlated with the number and duration of possum visits, but only weakly correlated with the number of visits by rodents. Consumption of maize was unaffected by the odor associated with the feeder. It is unlikely that the odors we tested will be useful in deterring rodents or possums from areas where they have been removed for economic, public health or conservation reasons.

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Bramley, G.N., Waas, J.R. Laboratory and Field Evaluation of Predator Odors as Repellents for Kiore (Rattus exulans) and Ship Rats (R. rattus). J Chem Ecol 27, 1029–1047 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010399322861

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