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Physiol Behav. 2004 Oct 15;82(5):871-5.

Contribution of anal scent gland and urinary odorants to mate recognition in the ferret.

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1
Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

Abstract

Previous research [J. Neurosci. 21 (2001) 5832-5840] showed that ferrets of both sexes require olfactory signals to identify opposite-sex mating partners at a distance. The present experiments assessed the contributions of anal scent gland and urinary odorants to these preferences. Sexually experienced, ovohysterectomized female and castrated male ferrets were injected daily with estradiol benzoate and testosterone propionate, respectively. When tested in an airtight Y-maze, subjects of both sexes preferred to approach volatile odors emitted from opposite- versus same-sex stimulus ferrets that were anesthetized and placed in the goal boxes, regardless of whether the anal scent glands of stimulus ferrets had been surgically removed or left intact. Subjects of each sex showed an equal preference to approach volatile odors emitted from anesthetized opposite-sex ferrets that were scent-gland intact as opposed to descented. Female subjects preferred to approach volatile anal scent gland odorants, as well as urinary odorants from male, as opposed to female conspecifics. Male subjects preferred to approach volatile anal scents from females versus males; however, males showed no preference for female over male urinary odorants. Our results suggest that anal scent gland odorants are sufficient, but not required, for mate recognition in the ferret. Instead, a combination of body odorants including, but not restricted to, those derived from anal scent gland secretions apparently underlie olfactory sex discrimination and partner preference in this carnivore.

PMID:
15451652
DOI:
10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.07.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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