How Does Smell Affect the General Behaviour of Rats and Mice
From the moment a rat is born it begins to interpret its world through its sense of smell, and throughout its life this is its primary sense, in much the same way as vision is ours. Newborns locate their mother's nipples by smell.
How does smell influence rat behaviour?
Having seen a normally docile buck aggressively bite the pet judge at a show I began thinking about his behaviour and (from a rat's point of view) what might explain it. There area number of physical occurences that might explain his behaviour, but I was interested in the possible influences of smell in that context.
During the birthing process the mother transfers the smell of amniotic fluid to her own nipples - by cleaning the babies and then grooming her underbelly. Without this transfer of familiar smell the babies will not feed. Within a few days, it is the smell of their own saliva that attracts them. Rat kittens have been shown to show preferences (by smell) towards those things that offered positive touching/nurturing experiences in their first few days, which is one of the benefits of gentle, early human handling.
From a droplet of urine left by another rat, an exploring rat can determine the gender, sexual maturity, reproductive status, familiarity, social status, and stress levels of the other. Individuals can also be recognised.
Rats have instinctive responses (fear and flight) to predator smells such as feline smells.
Food choices are made from cues received by smell from the mother's milk (determined by what she has eaten), and later in life by the smells picked up from the coat, whiskers and breath of other rats.
Situations where the sense of smell might be impaired
Rats with upper respiratory infections are likely to have a reduced sense of smell.
Strong and unfamiliar smells may overwhelm and confuse a rat.
Back to smell and aggression
For more significant information, check the links below:
Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Graeme Stephens has been running the largest owned carpet cleaning company