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Mechanisms underlying the repellent effects of predator odours in rodents


Rodents show an innate fear towards the fur and skin odours of cats. This effect is remarkably shown in laboratory rats and mice that have never experienced an actual predator. This project seeks to describe the mechanisms behind this phenomenon and determine the potential of cat fur odours as rodent repellents in the field (Bowen et al., 2014. Active coping towards predatory stress is associated with lower corticosterone and progesterone plasma levels and decreased methylation in the medial amygdala vasopressin system. Hormones and Behavior; Apfelbach et al., 2005. Effects of predator odors on foraging, feeding and reproduction in mammalian prey species. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews). The isolation, identification and synthesis of the molecules in cat fur that cuase rodent repellent effects is a major aim of the project, and then to determine their action on rodent pheromone-sensing receptors and processing of pheromones and kairomones in the rodent olfactory system. 


Professor Iain McGregor.

Research location

School of Psychology

Program type



Possible aims for this project inlcude: 1. Assessing the efficacy of cat fur in repelling rodents in the field 2. Identifying novel compounds present in cat fur and skin that may have repellent properties and screening these in the lab 3. Testing the capacity of these compounds to activate predator-related receptors in vitro

Additional information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2012

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