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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Odour Preferences and Discrimination in Captive Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus)

  • Author(s): Walker, Linda V.;
  • Croft, David B.
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Olfactory communication has been shown to be important in marsupials and, specifically, in Trichosurus vulpecula and Petaurus breviceps. Despite its commonality, little is known about the communication in the ringtail possum, Pseudocheirus peregrines. Therefore, to investigate olfactory communication in the ringtail possum, two experiments were conducted. The odour preference experiment examined the importance of fur, salivary, faecal and urinary odours in ringtail possum olfactory communication. The latency to approach urinary odours was significantly longer than for any other odours. Males sniffed familiar female urine samples for a significantly shorter duration than any other odour samples. Fur samples were manipulated for longer durations than any other odour samples. The discrimination experiment examined the ability of ringtail possums to discriminate between urine samples, and hence obtain socially significant information from such odour sources. The ringtail possums showed that they were able to discriminate between individuals and between sexes. The possible functions of urine, fur and paracloacal gland secretions are discussed.

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