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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Taste-aversion learning and its implications for rodent control


Although bait shyness has long been recognized as a problem to be overcome in the control of vertebrate pests, it has recently been suggested that the phenomenon might be turned to an advantage and used as an alternative, non-lethal form of control. Unfortunately, this technique has not proven to be as useful as hoped, as the work which has been done on coyotes is inconclusive at best and some recent work on rodents has cast serious doubts upon the method's potential. However, an extensive literature dealing with the formation of poison-based food aversions now exists, and insights gained from these studies can be used to increase the efficacy of traditional, lethal control techniques. For example, the efficacy of pre-baiting may be greatly increased if the pre-bait is treated with a nontoxic flavor which mimics the flavor of the subsequently used toxin, even if this non-toxic flavor decreases the acceptability of the pre-bait.

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