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Immune function and hematology of male cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) in response to food supplementation and methionine.

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  • 1Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA. raymond.webb@sill.army.mil


We examined effects of supplementation of food quantity and quality (=enhanced methionine) on hematologic and immunologic parameters of wild, but enclosed, adult male cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) in north-central Oklahoma. Sheet metal enclosures were stocked with a high density of wild-caught cotton rats (160 animals/ha) and randomly assigned a treatment of no supplementation, mixed-ration supplementation or methionine-enhanced supplementation. Aside from small increases in counts of red blood cells and hematocrit levels, most indices of erythrocytic characteristics were not affected by supplementation with the mixed-ration or enhanced methionine. In contrast, platelet counts were highest in mixed-ration and methionine treatments and counts of total white blood cells were highest with methionine supplementation, albeit relative proportions of different leukocytes did not differ among treatments. Immunologically, neither delayed-type hypersensitivity response nor hemolytic-complement activity differed among treatments. Supplementation of food quantity and quality did not broadly affect hematologic parameters and immune function of male cotton rats, but enhanced platelet and leukocyte counts may confer advantages to overall health. Clarification of the role of such effects on population limitation or regulation requires additional research.

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