Testing the potential of 50 kHz rat calls as a species-specific rat attractant

Davidson, Nicola B and Hurst, Jane L ORCID: 0000-0002-3728-9624
(2019) Testing the potential of 50 kHz rat calls as a species-specific rat attractant. PLOS ONE, 14 (4). e0211601-.

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The control of mammalian pests relies heavily on the use of pesticides that are often avoided and are not species-specific. These problems are particularly acute for pesticides used to control rats (Rattus spp.). The efficacy and targeting of control could be improved by attracting animals to control measures using species-specific cues. One cue that has the potential to attract rats is the 50 kHz calls they emit in positive social situations. Here we test the potential of these rat calls as a species-specific attractant by examining the response of laboratory rats (Rattus norvegicus; n = 48) and non-target bank voles (Myodes glareolus; n = 16) to 50 kHz calls from either sex in a compartmentalised laboratory arena. Sounds of rat movement and white noise acted as control treatments, with each sound tested against a silent control in the opposite side of the arena. When sound cues were played above an empty bait box, rats were attracted to spend time close to 50 kHz rat calls, climbing on top of boxes, regardless of the sex of subject or caller. When either 50 kHz rat calls or rat movement sounds were played inside an empty bait box, rats of both sexes spent 3-4 fold more time inside boxes and visited more frequently. Rats were not attracted by intermittent white noise. Bank voles were neither attracted to, nor avoided, 50 kHz rat calls played inside empty bait boxes. Our findings show that 50 kHz rat calls are an effective attractant for rats of both sexes under laboratory conditions, while not attracting non-target bank voles. These calls are strong candidates for providing a species-specific lure that may be attractive even in the absence of food bait, but further trials will be needed to assess their efficacy under field conditions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animals, Rats, Wistar, Behavior, Animal, Vocalization, Animal, Pest Control, Species Specificity, Movement, Sound, Arvicolinae, Female
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2019 10:25
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 00:54
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211601
Open Access URL: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.13...
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URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3036481