We hypothesized that olfactory communication facilitates neighbor recogniti
on in the giant kangaroo rat, Dipodomys ingens, and is therefore influentia
l in coordinating social interactions in this solitary, desert rodent. We t
ested whether (i) D. ingens can discriminate between odors of same- and opp
osite-sex conspecifics; and (ii) the kangaroo rats exhibit scent preference
s based on familiarity. In habituation-discrimination tests, we found that
both genders distinguish differences between the scent of individuals of th
e same- and opposite-sex. In olfactory preference tests, both males and fem
ales spent significantly more time investigating the scent of their familia
r cagemate than the scent of an unfamiliar conspecific. Giant kangaroo rats
may be able to recognize familiar neighbors from olfactory cues, thus supp
orting a hypothesis of neighbor recognition. Neighbor recognition may be an
important mechanism of social interactions in this endangered species.
Corresponding author: H. Murdock, 1468 18th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122
, USA. E-mail: email@example.com.