Conditioned taste aversion can reduce egg predation by rats

  • Published source details Massei G., Lyon A.J. & Cowan D.P. (2002) Conditioned taste aversion can reduce egg predation by rats. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 66, 1134-1140.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use aversive conditioning to reduce nest predation by mammalian predators

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Use aversive conditioning to reduce nest predation by mammalian predators

    A randomised, replicated and controlled ex situ experiment in the UK (Messi et al. 2002) found that administering thiabendazole orally to 33 rats after they ate either a chicken Gallus gallus domesticus or quail Cortunix coturnix egg reduced the rate that they subsequently fed on either chicken or quail eggs, compared to control rats. Experimental rats ate 83% fewer eggs over eight post-conditioning tests and spent 80% less time eating eggs. No rats offered the same type (chicken or quail) of egg as in the experiment ate it in the first post-conditioning trial and only 20% of those offered the alternative egg ate it. All effects grew weaker over the eight post-conditioning tests, with most experimental combinations being indistinguishable from controls after eight tests.


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