Experimental observations of the cutting and climbing of vegetation by hispid cotton rats
Jekanoski, R.D.; Kaufman, D.W.
Prairie Naturalist 25(3): 249-254
ISSN/ISBN: 0091-0376 Accession: 008653070
Behavior of cutting and climbing of herbaceous stems by hispid cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) was studied using experimental grass canopies under bright and dark laboratory conditions. When seeds were abundant in ground patches, none of 10 cotton rats climbed and fed in the canopy and only two of the 10 cut grass stalks. In the absence of ground seeds, however, all of nine additional rats either cut canopy stems (24 of 36 total trials; four trials per rat) or climbed into the vegetation for seeds (6 of 36). All climbing and eating in the canopy was done by two small (40-42 g) cotton rats. For rats that did not climb, total cut stems were greater when rats (n=3) were tested for two dark nights and then two bright nights ( hivin x=49.5 stems cut during the four nights) than when rats (n=4) were tested for two bright and then two dark trials ( hivin x=27.7, P lt 0.05). Bright illumination negatively affected stem cutting on nights 1-2 (dark: hivin x=20.0 stems cut during nights 1-2, bright: hivin x=5.3, 0.09 gt P gt 0.08), but not nights 3-4 (bright: hivin x=29.5 stems cut during nights 3-4, dark: hivin x=22.3, P gt 0.10).