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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Towards streamlined bank vole odor preference evaluation using Y-mazes

Engman, Mattias; Schlyter, Fredrik; Koteja, Pawel; Birgersson, Goran; Olsson, Gert; Witzell, Johanna; Lof, Magnus


Seed consumption by rodents causes substantial economic losses in agriculture and forest restoration. Rodents rely on their sensitive sense of smell to gather information about their environment. However, comparably little is known about how rodents use olfaction to locate food. We used bank voles to measure attraction to acorn odors in a Y-maze. Preferences were measured using two behaviors: approaching (time spent in odor preference zones) and investigation (numbers of nose pokes in odor nozzle), which yielded similar results. Shorter time intervals (15 and 30 s) in the preference zones were at least as good as the longer time interval (60 s) for detecting differences in approaching behavior. In this way, it is possible to reduce the measurement time with approximately 50%. Investigation, which was evaluated using only one time interval (180 s), yielded longer measurement time. Acorns were as preferred as the familiar, standard food (rodent chow) while an acorn aeration extract did not produce any response. We conclude that short measurement times for the evaluation of attractive odors makes it possible to efficiently assay the wide range of volatile compounds from bank voles' natural foods which may be important in studies wishing to develop new rodent control methods.


Arvicolinae; Food preferences; Method; M; glareolus; Smell; Quercus

Published in

Mammal Research
2020, Volume: 65, number: 1, pages: 1-9