Malaysian Applied Biology Journal

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49_05_04

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Malays. Appl. Biol. (2020) 49(5): 33–40

 

FOOD PREFERENCE AND THE EFFECT OF PREDATOR

CUES ON THE FORAGING BEHAVIOUR OF

HOUSE RAT (Rattus tanezumi)


WONG LOK JINN1 and ANDREW ALEK TUEN2*


1Faculty of Resource Science and Technology,

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia

2Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation,

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia

*E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Accepted 26 July 2020, Published online 31 December 2020

 

ABSTRACT

The House Rat (Rattus tanezumi) is a major pest in the agriculture and food industry, a carrier of zoonotic diseases, and a source of nuisance to society. Poisoning is not an ecologically desirable method to control the rat population due to its effect on non-target animals. This article reported on the use of predator cues to control the rat’s foraging behavior. Food preference for sugarcane, corn, oil palm fruit, and young coconut flesh was determined first using a modified “cafeteria method” with a central cage connected to four feeding stations by PVC tubes. Then the effect of predator cues (3-D model and call of an owl, a combination of model and call and no predator cue as control) on foraging behavior was tested by manipulating these cues near the feeding station. Giving up density (GUD), which is the amount of food remaining at the feeding stations, was measured in both experimental phases. Treatment means were analyzed using ANOVA and compared using the Tukey test. The finding showed that House Rats preferred young coconut flesh over other test foods. All predator cues increased GUD significantly (p<0.01) but the 3-D model was the most effective. This study suggests a potential use of predator cues to control rat pest.


Key words: House rat (Rattus tanezumi), visual cue, auditory cue, giving-up density (GUD), foraging behavior

 

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Vol 49(5) December 2020

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