Milkweed control by food imprinted rabbits

Anita Ducs, Andrea Kazi, Ágnes Bilkó, V. Altbäcker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Many species of invasive plants are spreading out rapidly in Europe. The common milkweed occupies increasingly more area. Being poisonous, most animals will not graze on it however rabbits would be an effective organism for the biological control of milkweed. Rabbit kittens can learn the maternal diet in various ways. They prefer aromatic foods which their mother had eaten during pregnancy or lactation period, -even if it is poisonous- but they can also learn the maternal diet from the fecal pellets deposited by the mother into the nest during the nursing events. The present study was aimed to investigate if rabbit kittens can learn that the common milkweed is a potential food also. In the first 10 days of their lives kits got fecal pellets originating from individuals having fed on common milkweed previously. When weaned on day 28 postpartum, these pups preferred the milkweed in the 3-way food choice test, opposite to the control group. Most surprisingly in a second experiment it was also shown that the common milkweed was also preferred by the kittens if their mother ate it not during, but one month before pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-80
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume130
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016

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Keywords

  • Biological control
  • Common milkweed
  • Nursing
  • Preference
  • Rabbit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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