The anal gland secretion of the European badger (Meles meles) and its role in social communication


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    Immunology Laboratory, Harefield Hospital, Harefield, Middlesex UB9 6JH, UK


The aim of this study was to investigate the chemical profile and hence the potential biological function of anal gland secretion in the European badger (Meles meles). Samples of secretion collected from wild and captive animals were analysed using gas chromatography. Analysis of whole secretion revealed the scent profiles of all samples to be remarkably similar. No evidence was found to suggest that the secretion contained information about the individual identity or sex of its producer, although some evidence was found of group differences in odour profile. Analysis of methylated samples revealed the secretion to be of low volatility, containing a number of long-chain (> C14) fatty acids, 15 of which were identified. The results are consistent with the idea that badger anal gland secretion functions as a long-term territory marker.