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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


EBENSPERGER, LUIS A.. Dustbathing and intra-sexual communication of social degus, Octodon degus (Rodentia:Octodontidae). Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2000, vol.73, n.2, pp.359-365. ISSN 0716-078X.

I observed the behavior of captive male and female Octodon degus to assess if dustbathing behavior plays a role in social communication among unfamiliar, same-sex conspecifics. Degus of a first group (control responders) were individually exposed during 10-min tests to an arena containing loose, clean soil. I compared the latency to first dustbathing as well as the overall frequency of dustbathing events recorded to control responders with the corresponding figures recorded to a second group of degus (experimental responders) after they were individually introduced into the same arena but with soil previously used for dustbathing by a same-sex conspecific (depositor). I also compared the location of dustbathing events by experimental responders with that of depositor individuals. Although male degus tended to exhibit shorter latencies to first dustbathing event when in clean soil, this variable was not significantly influenced by sex of responders or the type of soil (clean or used). In contrast, a significant interaction between both factors revealed that males dustbathe at a higher rate than females when on clean soil, but similarly so when in a substratum previously dustbathed by a same-sex conspecific. The place chosen by both male and female responders to conduct their dustbathing behavior was unrelated to the presence of previous marks left by a depositor degu. I conclude that dustbathing is involved in communication during male-male, but not during female-female, interactions in the degu. I suggest that such male-male interactions represent competition for mates

Keywords : sandbathing; scent communication; rodents.

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