U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Applied Animal Behaviour Science 204 (2018) 122–127


Copyright S.T. DeLiberto et al.

This document is a U.S. government work and is not subject to copyright in the United States.



The worldwide presence of vertebrate pests such as rodents has created a need for non-lethal control methods that can be applied to integrated pest management plans. Chemical repellents are often a useful wildlife management tool as they can be directly applied to a commodity or structure to prevent infringement and damage. We assessed the efficacy of an anthraquinone (AQ)-based repellent in a structural barrier model against Richardson’s ground squirrels (Urocitellus richardsonii (Sabine)) (RGS) and house mice (Mus musculus L.). The AQbased repellent was applied to pieces of burlap which were secured over each end of a small section of PVC pipe. Unadulterated enrichment food was then offered within the enclosed PVC pipe to motivate interactions with repellent-treated and untreated burlap barriers. Defeat of the barrier was defined as a physical breach by means of chewing the burlap or burlap/repellent barrier such that the test animal was able to gain entry to the hide and the enrichment food. RGS defeated 55% (±7.9) of untreated barriers, 25% (±6.8) of barriers treated with 50% dilution AQ-based repellent, and 27.5% (±5.6) of barriers treated with 0% dilution AQ-based repellent. House mice defeated 100% (±0.0) of untreated barriers, 20.5% (±6.4) of barriers treated with 50% dilution AQbased repellent, and 45.5% (±7.8) of barriers treated with 0% dilution AQ-based repellent. Relative to untreated barriers, AQ treatments reduced defeat of the barrier by 50–55% for RGS and 55–80% for house mice. RGS showed a marked decrease in consumption of enrichment food after exposure to AQ. The 0% dilution of AQtreated structural barrier had more individuals of both RGS and house mice chew through the structural barrier than the 50% dilution despite the increased concentration of AQ. We hypothesized that the additional water in the 50% dilution may have allowed for greater absorption of the repellent throughout the burlap fibers, thus enabling greater interaction with the AQ-treated barriers. Our results indicate that AQ-based repellents show promise as structural barriers for RGS and house mice.

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