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  • USA Wildlife Removal Education Guide - How rats communicate using pheromones

How rats communicate using pheromones

We all know that rats communicate through chirps and squeaks, but did you know they have a “secret language” that only they can understand? Science is just beginning to crack this rodent animal code. Pheromones are chemical signals that can elicit responses in between members of the same species. They are very important to rats in their intraspecies communication. Rats can convey valuable information such as the location of a predator, the presence of food, the need for sex, courtship, the location of safe shelter, and affection towards their young. Males often use it to establish their dominance over other males, and females use it to attract the mate with the most desirable traits.

When using it to communicate danger, rats can make the message rather specific. They can let others in their commune know if the danger is living or environmental, and the degree of danger that exists. These behaviors are seen in rats in the wild as well as in captivity. Rodents possess both a main group of epithelium tissues (sinus membranes) that aid in smell, as well as a vomeronasal organ (VNO) which is an auxiliary olfactory organ. The VNO acts as a chemoreceptor, taking in the “scent” of pheromones and relaying the information to the rat’s brain. The dominant olfactory epithelium in the nostrils responds to airborne smells, but the VNO located deeper in the nasal cavities is activated by fluid-phase scents that often act as pheromones.

The olfactory system uses higher- brain functions and triggers those responses. The pheromone system works strictly on animal responses to stimuli. There are two distinct specific types of pheromones. They are, Communication through primer, which covers base reactions like fear, sex, danger, anger, hunger or thirst, and dominance. Then there is Communication by Information pheromones which gives more in depth information such as what the other just ate, where the best food is, are you healthy, what IS the danger, where should we go?, etc.

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