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Rats' Own Pheromones Used as New Way to Get Rid of the Rodents

First Posted: Apr 12, 2016 07:28 AM EDT
Rat Trap
Rats foraging near a trap.
(Photo : Hulton Archive/ Getty Images)

Rats are the most common pest people worry about. Scientists from Simon Frasier University have figured out a way to exterminate these rodents by identifying and artificially copying the male brown rat's sex pheromone and luring the female brown rats into traps.

Pheromone is a chemical produced by an animal that changes how another animal of the same species react to them. Often times, others describe pheromone as behavior-altering agents. Aside from sexual behavior, pheromone also initiates a change in behavior in animals belonging to the same species.

The increased population of rats has been known to cause serious harm to people. That's why it is important to understand their behavior and what they want. Rats have their own way of destroying things, spread diseases, and threaten other animals in existence. The brown rat, which is the most common rat in the world, is multiplying quickly because they have somehow mastered the proper way to avoid traps in their natural habitat.

According to phys.org, Gerhard Gries, Stephen Takács and Regine Gries biologists from Simon Frasier University, and research chemist Huimin Zhai explained that their latest pheromone discovery tackled the trap-avoidance behavior of the brown rats. In both the lab and field experiments, experts have found that female rats easily slip through the trap boxes baited with male brown rat's sex pheromone.

"We're beginning to speak rat," says Gerhard Gries who is a professor of biological sciences and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Multimodal Animal Communication Ecology at SFU. He added saying that they have started to understand the rat's pheromones, and how they sound when they communicate and reproduce it. He also explained that they have understood the rat's food preference.

Science Daily reported that the scientists have envisioned their study to influence how rats are trapped. They have already started to create an electronic gadget with the help of Pawel Kowalski in SFU's Science Technical Center. The gadget has a special algorithm that can randomly follow how young rats' sound. Another contributor to the study is Antonia Musso, a graduate student from the same university who developed special food bait that not only attracts rats, but also encourage them to feed themselves, which is one important factor to trigger the trap to work.

With the help of the combination of the effective food bait, along with the rats' sex pheromone and sound signals, scientists expect that rats will be able to overcome their disgust for trap boxes.

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