Discrimination and preference to salivary olfactory cues in three species of rodents
This thesis examined the odiferous nature of rodent saliva for the male Mongolian gerbil, male and diestrous female golden hamsters, and male and female degus. Within each species,like-sexed pairs were dichotomized as to dominance or submissiveness and individual animals were presented with salivary samples from dominant pairings, an opposing gender, and a saline control; in an open field arena. Both degus and gerbils did not show any discriminative responding, via sniffs, time spent in proximity of and approaches to allstimuli. Degus discriminated salivary stimuli over the control when allowed to contact the stimuli. Degus preferred, via approaches, female samples. Male hamsters discriminated amongst all stimuli for the three behavioral measures. Dominant males preferred other male cues over diestrous female and saline samples via sniff. For approaches, dominant males preferred other dominant cues over submissive or female cues. Submissives preferred all salivary cues over the control via sniffs, but showed no individual preferences amongst the salivary cues. Female hamsters discriminated amongst all stimuli via sniffs. Dominant females preferred other submissive samples over those of a male and preferred dominant and submissive samples over the control, submissive females preferred all three salivary cues over the control; no other preferences were found. The importance of salivary cues and the odiferous nature of chemical cues of all secretory by-products of rodents are discussed.