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A method recently developed for the study of animal psychophysics was adapted for use in inferring the taste characteristics of rodenticides, as perceived by rodents. The method is based on generalization of learned food aversions to other materials having similar tastes. The potential of the method was illustrated in two experiments. In Experiment 1, five specimens of Rattus norvegicus (Sprague-Dawley) were conditioned to avoid the taste of strychnine (alkaloid) by pairing brief exposures to the strychnine with intraperitoneal injections of lithium chloride (LiCl). In subsequent 15-min drinking tests, the rats avoided mainly quinine sulfate and sucrose octaacetate [but not sodium chloride (NaCl) or hydrochloric acid (HCl), and sucrose only slightly] when compared with control rats. These results were confirmed in Experiment 2, and results from this experiment also indicated that sodium bicarbonate was not an effective agent for masking the taste of strychnine (that is, four rats conditioned with strychnine containing sodium bicarbonate still avoided quinine sulfate, compared with control rats in subsequent drinking tests, and four rats conditioned with only strychnine avoided quinine sulfate containing sodium bicarbonate in subsequent drinking tests). We suggest that the method has potential for use in assessing taste characteristics of rodenticides, as well as such bait additives as taste enhancers and masking agents, to rodents.
food aversion learning, rodenticide, sodium bicarbonate, strychnine, taste, taste masking, vertebrate pest control
Professor of psychology, Whitely Psychology Laboratories, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa.
Wildlife biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, assigned to the Monell Chemical Senses CenterDenver Wildlife Research Center, Section of Supporting Sciences, PhiladelphiaLakewood, Pa.Colo.
Assistant member, Monelle Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, Pa.