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Behav Processes. 1995 May;34(1):55-65.

Food preference behaviour of the five-striped squirrel, Funambulus pennanti Wroughton.

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All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Rodent Control, Department of Zoology, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana - 141 004, India.


Food preference behaviour of Funambulus pennanti Wroughton was studied offering four different types of cereals, viz. wheat, millet, maize and rice in three textural forms, viz. whole dry, cracked and whole moist in no-choice, bi-choice and multiple-choice to the experimental squirrels. The mean daily intake of F. pennanti in no-choice has been recorded to be 3.53 to 11.70 g, which, however, increased to 6.31 to 14.19 g and 20.12 to 33.98 g in bi-choice and multiple-choice experiments, respectively. The preference of squirrels in the no-choice feeding experiment was for cracked millet, whole moist wheat and whole dry wheat. In bi-choice feeding experiments, squirrels preferred cracked millet, whole moist millet and whole dry rice. In multiple-choice experiments, the squirrels showed a preference for cracked millet, whole moist and dry wheat and rice. On overall basis, cracked millet was highly preferred by the squirrels. In pen-feeding experiments where the squirrels were offered 12 different foods along with the different plant material including weeds, grasses, twigs of fruit trees, revealed the sustenance in preference of squirrels for cracked millet, whole moist millet, whole moist and dry wheat and whole dry rice in descending order. Squirrels neither formed any nest nor hoarded any food in the experimental pen. Squirrels did not reject any food during choice preference experiments and demonstrated optimal behaviour. Overall, squirrels exhibited a 'Generalist' feeding pattern. The present findings indicate that cracked millet should be used as a poison carrier for control of squirrels while other preferred cereals can also be used as a bait for mixing poison in the subsequent control operations.


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