March 9, 2011

Tiger Feces Can Help Ward Off Animal Pests

After years of experimenting with the feces of large cats, a team from the University of Queensland discovered that the feces of tigers is an effective deterrent in warding off animal pests such as goats and kangaroos from certain plants, Associate Professor Peter Murray tells AFP.

"While such repellents are typically based on offensive smells like rotten eggs, blood or bone, using tiger poo came from the idea that "if you can smell a predator nearby you would probably want to go somewhere else," Murray claims.

Murray and his team, who worked on the project for eight years, tested the deterring properties of the waste on goats in a small paddock, placing the feces taken from local zoos near a feeding trough and observing events with a video feed.

"The goats really didn't like it. They wouldn't go near the trough," Murray told AFP. He said old goat carcasses also proved effective in warding off goats, but the smell was so bad that it made the scientists feel sick.

The researchers also found that the feces worked best as a deterrent when the tiger had been fed the animal being targeted. "There's not only a chemical signal in the feces that says "ËœHooly dooley, this is a dangerous animal', it's "ËœHooly dooley, this is a dangerous animal that's been eating my friends," Murray explained.

"We know there is an evolutionary relationship between the animals ... and there's a signal in the feces the animal recognizes as a predator," he concluded. Researchers were initially focused on feral goats, creating repellents using festering or burnt goat carcass and dog urine.

Several species of animals showed similar reactions to the feces, and he believed that with more funding a synthetic tiger poo smell could be developed and potentially create a commercial product.


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