Olfactory Communication in Kangaroo Rats (D. Merriami)
Kangaroo rats (family Heteromyidae) form a major component of mammalian fauna in the arid deserts of western North America. They have long been considered solitary rodents with a low threshold for the exhibition of agonistic behaviors (Eisenberg, 1963). Although much is known about their ecology, little is known about their social systems and communication. Four years of my research on olfactory communication in the Merriam’s kangaroo rat, Dipodomys merriami indicate that olfactory signals are a major means of communication in this species. Signals originate from at least two sources: sandbathing deposits and urine marks. These odors communicate species and sex, coordinate reproduction, and help to maintain social order.
KeywordsHome Range Urine Mark Intact Male Castrate Male Estrous Female
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