In Africa, indigenous multimammate mice (Mastomys natalensis) only appear to live commensally in houses when invasive black rats (Rattus rattus) are absent, yet little is known about the underlying mechanism. Avoidance through smell may cause the absence of M. natalensis from areas occupied by R. rattus, but this hypothesis has not yet been tested. We conducted a Y-maze choice experiment where 15 M. natalensis were offered a choice between corridors containing conspecific scent, R. rattus scent and a control scent. Residence time in the R. rattus corridor was greater than that in the control corridor but equal to that in the M. natalensis corridor, suggesting that multimammate mice do not actively avoid the scent of their invasive competitor.
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Vol. 52 • No. 2