ArticlePDF Available

Scent Rubbing in Carnivores

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Scent rubbing behavior in carnivores is described, along with a possible phylogenetic relationship between the various forms of this behavior. The phylogenetically oldest form of scent rubbing is rubbing of back and neck on scent sources belonging to the food group. From this basic scent rubbing behavior evolved those behavior patterns which are directed to urine / feces or species specific scent marks. Besides this evolution of the scent sources which elicit scent rubbing, there were also changes in the body areas rubbed on the scent. In modern forms of scent rubbing, more cranial body areas are used, e.g. cheek, chin, and throat. These interpretations led to the conclusion that feline cheek rubbing is not a scent marking behavior, but a scent rubbing behavior.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... Scent marking is widespread in mammals (Brown & Macdonald, 1985;Eisenberg & Kleiman, 1972;Gorman, 1990) and, among terrestrial carnivores (Ewer, 1973), often occurs in connection with rolling, also called scent rubbing (Rieger, 1979) or self-scenting (Zimen, 1981). Whereas scent marking transfers the animal's scent to its surroundings, rolling presumably transfers odoriferous substances from the environment to the animal's body (Rieger, 1979). ...
... Scent marking is widespread in mammals (Brown & Macdonald, 1985;Eisenberg & Kleiman, 1972;Gorman, 1990) and, among terrestrial carnivores (Ewer, 1973), often occurs in connection with rolling, also called scent rubbing (Rieger, 1979) or self-scenting (Zimen, 1981). Whereas scent marking transfers the animal's scent to its surroundings, rolling presumably transfers odoriferous substances from the environment to the animal's body (Rieger, 1979). Rolling in strong odors such as carrion, feces, or vomit is particularly manifest in spotted hyenas, both in the wild (Goodall & van Lawick, 1970) and in captivity (Drea et al., 2002;Glickman et al., 1997;Rieger, 1979). ...
... Whereas scent marking transfers the animal's scent to its surroundings, rolling presumably transfers odoriferous substances from the environment to the animal's body (Rieger, 1979). Rolling in strong odors such as carrion, feces, or vomit is particularly manifest in spotted hyenas, both in the wild (Goodall & van Lawick, 1970) and in captivity (Drea et al., 2002;Glickman et al., 1997;Rieger, 1979). We distinguish this behavior from rubbing that may serve to deposit odor (Kleiman, 1966), to scratch oneself, to remove parasites, or to display exuberance. ...
Article
Olfaction is crucial to spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), yet there are no controlled studies of their reactions to odors. In Experiment 1, the authors examined responses of captive hyenas to various environmental (prey, nonprey animal, and plant) odors. Subjects approached and sniffed all odors equally but preferentially licked prey odors, scent marked next to odors, and rolled in animal-based odors. In Experiment 2, the authors examined the function of rolling by applying odors to the pelts of captive hyenas. When hyenas wore carrion, they gained positive social attention (increased investigation and allogrooming) from pen mates, but when they wore camphor, the normal social greeting ceremony was curtailed. Thus, olfactory stimuli elicit specific responses, influence where behavior is directed, and can be used to affect social interaction.
... In a survey of carnivores, Rieger (1979) cited the "scent markings of conspecifics or the scent rubbing animals themselves" (p. 17) as elicitors of rolling. ...
... 17) as elicitors of rolling. Rieger (1979Rieger ( , 1981 primarily observed captive striped hyenas in zoological settings and noticed anal gland secretions on their neck fur, at the site where rubbing occurs. Likewise, Goodall and van Lawick (1970) described an instance of a male rolling in a freshly pasted scent mark of a female. ...
Article
Scent marking in spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) includes the deposition of anal sac secretions, or "paste," and presumably advertises territorial ownership. To test whether captive hyenas classify and discriminate individuals using odor cues in paste, the authors conducted behavioral discrimination bioassays and recorded hyena investigation of paste extracted from various conspecific donors. In Experiment 1, subjects directed most investigative behavior toward scents from unfamiliar hyenas and members of the opposite sex. In Experiment 2, male hyenas discriminated between concurrent presentations of paste from various unfamiliar females in similar reproductive states. Thus, pasted scent marks convey information about the sex, familiarity, and even identity of conspecifics. Aside from territory maintenance, scent marking may also communicate information about individual sexual status.
Article
Full-text available
High infection risk is often associated with aggregations of animals around attractive resources. Here, we explore the behavior of potential hosts of non-trophically transmitted parasites at mesocarnivore carcass sites. We used videos recorded by camera traps at 56 red fox ( Vulpes vulpes ) carcasses and 10 carcasses of other wild carnivore species in three areas of southeastern Spain. Scavenging species, especially wild canids, mustelids and viverrids, showed more frequent rubbing behavior at carcass sites than non-scavenging and domestic species, suggesting that they could be exposed to a higher potential infection risk. The red fox was the species that most frequently contacted carcasses and marked and rubbed carcass sites. Foxes contacted heterospecific carcasses more frequently and earlier than conspecific ones and, when close contact occurred, it was more likely to be observed at heterospecific carcasses. This suggests that foxes avoid contact with the type of carcass and time period that have the greatest risk as a source of parasites. Overall, non-trophic behaviors of higher infection risk were mainly associated with visitor-carcass contact and visitor contact with feces and urine, rather than direct contact between visitors. Moreover, contact events between scavengers and carnivore carcasses were far more frequent than consumption events, which suggests that scavenger behavior is more constrained by the risk of acquiring meat-borne parasites than non-trophically transmitted parasites. This study contributes to filling key gaps in understanding the role of carrion in the landscape of disgust, which may be especially relevant in the current global context of emerging and re-emerging pathogens. Graphical abstract
Article
Full-text available
The goal of this project was to document the responses of free-ranging cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and other large African felids to novel scents in an attempt to refine methods for surveying felid populations. Specifically, the purpose of the study was: 1) To ascertain whether African felids are attracted to novel scents. While captive cats are drawn to a wide variety of fragrances, we wanted to assess the response of free-ranging felids to novel scents where they might i) explore scents because they are unfamiliar and interesting, or ii) avoid scents because they might be associated with human activity. 2) Assess whether these scents would elicit rubbing responses that could be used to facilitate the collection of hair samples from African felids. If successful, this technique could be used as an effective tool to non-invasively collect hair samples for genetic analyses.
Article
Full-text available
The scent of 3-mercapto-3-methylbutanol (3-M-3-MB), a volatile component of leopard (Panthera pardus) and domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) urine, released at about 10 ng/s from slow-release dispensers, elicited scent-marking from African civet (Civettictis civetta), small-spotted genet (Genetta genetta) and slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea), as well as African wildcat (F. s. cafra). A female leopard was apparently repelled by the scent. The scent-marking and scent-rubbing by species other than African wildcats and leopards were unexpected and have important implications for the design of studies to investigate chemical communication between wild mammals and the use of camera traps to estimate animal numbers. Videos showing the behaviours referred to in this article are available at; http://www.momo-p.com/showdetail-e.php?movieid=momo161223fs01a; http://www.momo-p.com/showdetail-e.php?movieid=momo161223gs01a; http://www.momo-p.com/showdetail-e.php?movieid=momo161223gg01a.
Article
and SummaryStudy on Social Interactions between Male and Female Genets (Genetta genetta L.): Relations between Scent Marking and Aggression The aim of this work was to study the relations between marking behaviour and aggression in genets (Genetta genetta L.). Observations on social interactions were made on a socially stable pair and during encounters between unfamiliar pairs. In the first case, there appeared to be a relationship between marking activity in the male and aggression. During aggression periods, marking with the ano-urogenital region increased in the male and decreased in the female. Another striking variation concerned flank rubbing and hindleg rubbing. In both male and female these marking frequencies increased significantly during aggression periods and flank rubbing was modified by visual cues. Data recorded during encounters between unfamiliar pairs (one male being introduced in a female's cage) showed that agonistic behaviours were released through visual cues in females and olfactory cues in males. The same changes in marking frequencies were observed. These results also showed that ano-urogenital marking was inhibited in females during aggression periods. The adaptative significance of these phenomena is discussed.
Article
The energetic costs and the risk of injury in agonistic encounters can be reduced by prior assessment of opponents: it will generally pay low quality animals to avoid combat with one of high quality. Following this principle it is suggested that territory owners scent mark their territories to provide intruders with a means of assessment. When the odour of a competitor, or of a mark it is seen to have made, matches that of scent marks encountered in the vicinity, then the competitor is probably the territory owner. Since owners are generally high quality animals, and assuming they have more to gain by retaining a territory than an intruder has in taking it over, it will pay the owner to escalate and the intruder to give up early. The advantage to owners in marking may thus be that by allowing themselves to be identified they reduce the costs of territory defence. Published information on the behaviour of territory owners and intruders is consistent with predictions from this hypothesis. The hypothesis offers an explanation for a number of poorly understood behaviours including ‘self-anointing’ and scent marking during agonistic encounters.
Article
Recent ethological studies on the interactions between man and his pet dog, have shown different analogies bétween the behavioural mechanisms developed during intraspecific and interspecific proximal relationships. This study characterizes new analogies between sniffing, licking and rubbing behaviours of familiar dogs, directed towards the urban environment, their conspecific and their master. The results emphasize the importance of the synergic relation between the exploratory sniffing and tasting behaviours. Different hypothesis are put forward concerning the functions of these behaviours developped by dogs during their social interactions and their importance in relations between humans and animals.
Article
Full-text available
There is no consensus about the function of scent-rubbing, a widespread behaviour in which mammals rub their bodies vigorously in substances, many strong-smelling and some artificial, such as rotting meat, intestinal contents and engine oil. Here we suggest that scent-rubbing is involved in status advertisement and that, as in assessment using scent marks, the mechanism used by competitors to assess potential opponents may be scent-matching. In scent-matching a resource holder is assessed (identified) by comparing its odour with odours on or near the defended resource. In scent marking the odour originates from the resource holder (glandular secretion, urine and faeces); in scent-rubbing the odour originates in the environment. A prerequisite of unambiguous scent-matching is that the odour of scent-marks should be uniquely characteristic of one individual. This may be why marking substances are very complex chemically. Scent-rubbing often occurs with scent-marking and, rather than acting independently of scent-marking, the odours acquired may either (i) add to the complexity of the signal, thus reducing signal ambiguity, or (ii) increase the range of the signal by adding a strong smelling component. Subordinates could potentially cheat by rubbing in the same odours as the resource holder. Resource holders could prevent cheating (i) by checking other status cues and by testing competitors whose scent matches, then escalating contests when the competitor's fighting ability (more formally, Resource Holding Power) proves to be lower than that of a resource holder and (ii) by mixing the substances used for scent-rubbing with the unique substances used in scent-marking.
Article
We investigated head- and cheek-rubbing behavior in four species of large felines, lions (Leo panther), leopards (Panthera pardus), tigers (Panthera tigris), and cougars (Puma concolor), in captivity. Preliminary behavioral observations found that lions and tigers, but not leopards and cougars, showed behavioral responses to cardboard rubbing samples from head and cheek areas from conspecific felines, compared to the blank cardboard controls. In this context, surface samples on the facial areas of each species were collected to analyze volatile organic compounds that could be involved in the facial marking of felines. Previously developed stir bar surface sampling methodology was used. From all cheek and forehead samples, 100 volatile organic compounds were identified or tentatively identified. Among these, 41 have been previously reported to be present in feline urine and marking secretions. Several new compounds were identified on facial surfaces. Some of the compounds showed substantial quantitative differences among the species. One compound, that has not been reported previously in mammals, 3-acetamidofuran, was found in all investigated species. It was synthesized and tested for behavioral responses. No responses were elicited in a preliminary test. Future research will test other potential signaling compounds and their mixtures for ability to elicit behavioral responses.
Article
Social behavior of the maned wolf, Chrysocyon brachyurus, and bush dog, Speothos venaticus, was compared. Differences in communication mechanisms between these two South American canids could be correlated with their social organization and ecology. Chrysocyon, inhabiting the savannahs of South America and feeding primarily on small vertebrates, invertebrates, and fruit, exhibits a dispersed social system, that is, it is essentially solitary in habit. The maned wolf relies primarily on signals that carry well over long distances and tend to promote the spacing of individuals through avoidance (for example, the bark), a conspicuous visual threat display, and locus-specific defecation. By contrast, Speothos is a cooperative hunter of the Neotropical rainforest, feeding mainly on rodents that are large relative to its own size. It is social and mainly employs short-distance signals, which promote approach behavior (tail-wagging), reduce intraspecific aggression (displays of active submission), and allow the maintenance of constant contact in the forest (the squeak vocalization). Quantitative observations on urine-marking suggest that the frequency of marking in Chrysocyon is partly dependent on the amount of available space, whereas in Speothos, marking may be influenced by social factors.
Article
The eleven different functions for which mammals use urine marking are reviewed in this paper, and the urine marking behavior of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is described in detail. A new hypothesis is advanced that urine marking may serve as a "book keeping system" in the red fox's scavenging behavior. Foxes consistently investigate and urine mark inedible food remnants (e.g., bones, bird wings, and dried out pieces of hide). When a fox re-investigates a marked remnant, the urine mark signals "no food present," and the fox investigates this object for only a brief period of time. This use of urine marking may increase the efficiency of its scavenging behavior, i.e. more food-items found per hour of scavenging. This efficiency may be particularly important during periods of food shortage. The hypothesis is tested in three different experiments, using free-ranging red foxes as subjects. Experiment I establishes that fox do urine mark food remnants. Experiment II shows that foxes investigate for a significantly shorter period of time (P<0.001) food remnants exhibiting both the odor of food and the odor of urine as compared to remnants exhibiting just the odor of food. Experiment III suggests that there a hierarchy of stimuli which determines different responses in the fox's scavenging behavior. The experiments also suggest that there is a degree of social behavior in the scavenging activities of red foxes. Foxes appear to use each other's urine marks to increase the efficiency of their scavenging behavior. Thus this study definitely support LEYHAUSEN'S (1965) statement that the social life of solitary animals is frequently more complex than we realize. Solitary species probably show many ingeniously adapted mechanisms for occupying niches where highly social species could not be maintained. The social evolution and ecological advantages of solitary species deserve to be the focus of future research.