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Keywords:

  • fertility control;
  • quinestrol;
  • Rattus nitidus;
  • rodent pest;
  • social behavior

Abstract

Fertility control has been identified by studies in the laboratory and the field as a more appropriate and long-term control strategy for rodent pests than lethal control. In this study, we investigated the effects of quinestrol on mass of reproductive organs and on social behaviors in female and male Himalayan field rats (Rattus nitidus). A total of 16 adult females and 16 adult males were randomly assigned to 4 groups. One male and one female group were fed rice with 0.005% quinestrol by weight for 7 days, and another 2 groups were fed rice only. After 7 days, rats were assigned to 10 min dyadic encounters between groups, and investigation, aggression, defense and attack latency were quantified. All animals were killed on day 10, and reproductive organs were dissected and weighed. Dyadic encounter data showed that there were obvious changes in social behaviors of quinestrol-treated rats. Quinestrol significantly inhibited the investigative behavior of quinestrol-treated males toward control females in Rattus nitidus, but seldom affected investigation between control males and quinestrol-treated females. Aggression of control females toward quinestrol-treated males was higher than that of quinestrol-treated females, and defense of quinestrol-treated males toward control females was more remarkable than that of control males. Quinestrol remarkably decreased wet masses of epididymis and spermotophore in males and ovaries in females, but had no effect on wet masses of testes and uteri after quinestrol treatment. These results indicate that the anti-fertility effects of quinestrol on R. nitidus are attributed to not only suppressing reproductive organs but also impacting social behaviors associated with territory defense and mate choice.