The StopRats team in Swaziland publishes a paper in the open access journal PLoS ONE. This paper shows that Domestic Cats and Dogs Create a Landscape of Fear for Pest Rodents around Rural Homesteads.
Although many people claim that keeping a cat around the home will reduce rodent problems, there has actually been very little scientific evidence supporting the use of domestic cats or dogs, or explaining the mechanism of any rodent control. Findings of the research show that one likely mechanism through which rodent problems may be reduced, is the effect that cats and dogs have on the foraging behaviour of pest rodents. Like most prey animal species, rodents are able to detect the presence of predators in their environment. When the risk of predation is perceived to be higher, rodents will spend less time looking for food in that area. Researchers used this phenomenon to understand the landscape of fear around rural homesteads in Swaziland. More details can be found in the NRI press release.
The lead author of the paper, Themb’alilahlwa A. M. Mahlaba from the University of Swaziland, was interviewed on South African radio station 702 about the outcomes of the paper. The interview can be listened to here.